Bu­rundi be­com­ing a ‘vi­o­lent dic­ta­tor­ship’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Bu­rundi’s Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza and his rul­ing party have moved the coun­try to­ward vi­o­lent dic­ta­tor­ship, rights groups said yes­ter­day in a re­port that slams the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity for in­ac­tion. A “purge” of eth­nic Tut­sis from the army, a crack­down on op­po­si­tion and me­dia and a bid to change the con­sti­tu­tion to al­low un­lim­ited pres­i­den­tial terms are signs of an “in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent dic­ta­to­rial regime”, it said.

The tiny cen­tral African state was plunged into po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in April 2015 when Nku­run­z­iza an­nounced his in­ten­tion to run for a third term which he went on to win. At least 500 peo­ple have been killed in en­su­ing vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to the UN-al­though rights groups put the fig­ure at over 1,000 - and more than 400,000 have fled the coun­try since the cri­sis be­gan. In their re­port the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion for Hu­man Rights (known by its French acro­nym, FIDH) and part­ner groups de­scribe how the rul­ing party has tight­ened its stran­gle­hold dur­ing a two-year con­flict.

It said the rul­ing CNDD-FDD has be­come the sole state party, with mon­u­ments glo­ri­fy­ing it erected, party flags placed at en­trances to pub­lic schools and vi­o­lent pro­pa­ganda broad­cast urg­ing Bu­run­di­ans to be ready to fight and elim­i­nate op­po­nents. “In a mat­ter of two years, al­most all the heads and ac­tivists of the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion have been si­lenced and hunted down by the Bu­run­dian au­thor­i­ties,” it said. The re­port de­tails ac­counts of Tutsi sol­diers who have dis­ap­peared, been ar­rested or bru­tally tor­tured or found dead.

It warns that with­out in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ven­tion Nku­run­z­iza could suc­ceed in re­vers­ing his­tory and es­tab­lish­ing a Hutu-con­trolled regime based on a mono-eth­ni­cal army un­der the con­trol of the au­thor­i­ties. In Bu­rundi, which has a long his­tory of vi­o­lence be­tween Hutu and Tutsi com­mu­ni­ties, “this would rep­re­sent a ma­jor risk for peace in the coun­try, as in the re­gion.” The re­port sin­gles out the rul­ing party youth wing, the Im­bon­er­akure, which it de­scribes as a mili­tia char­ac­ter­ized by “ide­o­log­i­cal rad­i­cal­iza­tion” that has been recorded singing songs en­cour­ag­ing the rape of op­po­si­tion women and is widely ac­cused of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing mur­der, rape and tor­ture.

The FIDH urges “the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to rec­og­nize the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion in Bu­rundi” and for the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) to quickly open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It also says the African Union and UN should en­sure po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue, im­pose an arms em­bargo and ap­ply sanc­tions against Bu­rundi of­fi­cials. “The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s lack of de­ter­mi­na­tion and its in­ca­pac­ity to im­ple­ment its own de­ci­sions “al­low Nku­run­z­iza to shore up his po­si­tion ahead of a pos­si­ble at­tempt to change the con­sti­tu­tion to al­low him to run again in 2020. Bu­rundi has re­peat­edly de­nied a cam­paign of re­pres­sion and has harshly crit­i­cised UN warn­ings of a geno­cide risk.— AFP

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