Burundi: Resolve Burundi Leadership Row, Uhuru Urged
By Gilbert Koech
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta was yesterday petitioned to use his influence to resolve the turmoil in Burundi.
East African Trade Union Confederation chairman Francis Atwoli said political intolerance in Burundi is not only a serious concern to that country but also to the region.
"Unless the matter is resolved earliest, the region's political stability and peace are likely to tumble," Atwoli said in a statement.
EATUC brings together six East African national trade union centres from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Kenya.
Atwoli, who is Cotu secretary general, said the union is perturbed by the ongoing unrest in Burundi.
On Saturday, opposition party leader Zedi Feruzi was gunned down in Bujumbura. Atwoli asked Uhuru to ask Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza to enter into a truce with those opposed to his bid for a third term to avoid more deaths.
Feruzi's Saturday assassination will add to tension in a country that has witnessed a month of protests against Nkurunziza's attempt to amend the laws.
Atwoli said the process of finding truce in Burundi needs to be hastened as the trade union counterparts in Burundi express fear and uncertainty over members' and workers' lives.
"If this uncertainty continues, there is an imminent danger to the push for the region's joint customs market," he said.
Atwoli said EATUC has no doubt that Uhuru, who is the youngest President in the region, will use his skills in speaking to his equally young colleague in Burundi.
Burundi: Opposition Calls Off Talks With Govt After Politician's Murder
"The climate is not conducive for talks," said Bernard Ndayisegna, a leader of the opposition National Forces of Liberation (FNL) party.
Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the Union for Peace and Development (UPD)-Zigamibanga opposition party, was shot dead outside his house by unknown gunmen in the capital, Bujumbura, on Saturday. One of his bodyguards was also killed in the attack.Witnesses claim the assailants had worn the presidential guard uniforms. The presidency denies any involvement in the attack.
Condemning Feruzi's assassination, the central African country's opposition groups said they were "suspending participation in dialogue with the government." They also said that the opposition leader's murder could have been part of a "plan to physically eliminate" leaders of the anti-government campaign.
The killings came a day after an attack on a busy market in Bujumbura left three people dead. The incident risks igniting further tensions in Burundi, a country gripped by weeks of anti-government demonstrations triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial decision to seek a third term in office in June.
Nkurunziza's decision late last month set off an attempted, though ultimately unsuccessful, coup.
At least 20 people have died and 431 people have been wounded in protests against the president.
Opposition campaigners 'in danger'
Agathon Rwasa, an opposition politician, told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday that a number of anti-government activists, politicians and journalists had gone into hiding after Feruzi's murder.
"The life of anyone who opposes (President) Pierre Nkurunziza is in danger... People are being assassinated here and there," Rwasa said.
At least 100,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries since the start of the latest conflict.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has slammed violence in Burundi and criticized Nkurunziza's attempt to stay in power.
Feruzi's murder and grenade attacks on independent media stations "threaten to entrench mistrust and trigger further violence," Ban said in a statement.
"These acts of violence constitute a stark reminder of the need for all Burundian political leaders to address the current political crisis with the highest sense of responsibility and to place peace and national reconciliation above partisan interests," Ban said.
Burundi: Emergency Meeting of the Ministers of EAC Affairs On Burundi Held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania
The meeting was called following the directive issued by the EAC Heads of the State at their 13th Extra-Ordinary Summit held on 13th May 2015, in Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania.
The Meeting, chaired by the Hon. Dr Harrison Mwakyembe Minister, was briefed of the results of the meeting of the Attorneys General held on the 15th May 2015, in Arusha, Tanzania and noted that the report thereof would be submitted to the Summit for consideration.
The meeting deliberated on the current situation in the Republic of Burundi and, in preparation for the Summit which will be convened by the Chairperson of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State, agreed as follows:
a) The EAC Eminent Persons/COMESA Committee of Elders to visit Bujumbura to continue with consultations with all actors and report to the Summit;
b) The Chairperson of the Council of Ministers and the Secretary General will urgently visit the Republic of Burundi to assess the situation on the ground;
c) The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary responsible for EAC Affairs to visit the refugee camps hosting refugees from the Burundi both in the Republic of Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania to assess the humanitarian situation in the camps.
Burundi: General Declares Coup Against Nkurunziza
A column of armed troops, trailed by a crowd of jubilant protesters, was heading for downtown Bujumburu after an apparent coup attempt, a local news outlet reported from the city on Wednesday.
Iwacu said two local radio stations had broadcast an announcement that Major-General Godefroid Niyombare - a former army intelligence chief - had deposed President Pierre Nkurunziza while he was away at a regional summit.
However, Reuters reported Nkurunziza's office as responding to the announcement by describing it as "a joke".
The army declared it is taking control of Burundi in a public radio announcement, according to International Business Times in the UK.
Senior army generals said they are dismissing President Pierre Nkurunziza, who is in Tanzania to meet East Africa Community leaders to discuss the violent protests in his country.
"Forces vive de la nation (allAfrica ed's note: Meaning "The activists of Burundi") have decided to take charge of the nation," Godefroid Niyombare, a former major general who was fired in April, reportedly said in the announcement.