Ex-president seeks international help on Burundi peace accord

Sunday March 10 2019

Burundi protestors

Burundians opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza during a demonstration in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura on May 18, 2015. PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AFP
By AFP
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NAIROBI,

Former Burundi President Pierre Buyoya, the subject of a government arrest warrant, has urged the international community to intervene over what he termed breaches of the country's peace accord.

The warrant against him was one such violation of the Arusha agreement of 2000 that ended a brutal civil war in Burundi, Mr Buyoya claimed in a letter to the pact's guarantors.

It also amounted to "a hindrance to the process of national reconciliation," he warned in the letter seen by AFP on Saturday and authenticated by an African diplomat.

The document, dated March 1, was addressed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who mediated the peace deal and supervised it, as well as fellow guarantors South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, the UN, African Union and the European Union.

ATTEMPTED COUP

In November, Burundi issued an international arrest warrant against Mr Buyoya, 11 former senior officials and five civilians close to him over the 1993 killing of the country's first democratically-elected leader, Melchior Ndadaye.

Mr Buyoya is the African Union's representative in Mali and a respected figure on the continent as well as overseas. A Tutsi, he came to power in a 1987 coup with the help of Burundi's army.

He stepped down in 1993, when Mr Ndadaye, a Hutu, was elected, but Mr Ndadaye was killed just four months later in an attempted coup by hardline Tutsi soldiers.

That led to several years of civil war between the two ethnic groups, in which an estimated 300,000 people died.

THE PLEA

In the letter, Mr Buyoya accuses current President Pierre Nkurunziza of "violating the Arusha accord and the constitution that flowed from it."

The country, he added, was in a political crisis, "aggravated by the massive and daily violation of human rights."

He urged the guarantors "to intervene resolutely, using all the means at their disposal, to redress the wrong that is being inflicted on the Burundian people and to make President Nkurunziza see reason".

Burundi was plunged into crisis in 2015 when President Nkurunziza sought -- and went on to win -- a controversial third term.

At least 1,200 people are estimated to have died in the ensuing turmoil, with more than 400,000 displaced. The International Criminal Court launched an investigation.

Mr Nkurunziza's rule has been characterised by growing authoritarianism, intimidation and abuse, according to human rights groups.