Domitien Ndayizeye, the former president of Burundi, says he is taking seriously threats made against him by speakers for the Imbonerakure militia during a massive weekend rally in Bujumbura.
Ndayizeye, who was succeeded by current President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2005, told Burundi’s independent Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) that the threats made by Imbonerakure youth affiliated with the ruling CNDD-FDD party may cause him to seek protection but he does not intend to flee.
The threats were made in response to public comments Ndayizeye made last week about the Imbonerakure, some 10,000 of whom gathered for Saturday’s rally and marched 15 kilometers across the city. The Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) opposition leader defended his comments as part of democratic political discussion, and encouraged the youth leaders to meet with him to do that.
The Imbonerakure called Ndayizeye “grandfather” and said his remarks were insults mixed with advice. They also reminded Burundians that Ndayizeye and his party have been aligned with CNARED, a Brussels-based opposition group in exile. He was himself an exile, and arrested in 2006 for participating in an alleged coup plot at the beginning of Nkurunziza’s tenure though later released.
As president, the 2003 peace deal he signed with Nkurunziza the FDD rebel leader led to the latter’s first political post. Ndayizeye continues to participate in the Arusha peace dialogues.
The Sahwanya FRODEBU opposition party complained in May about a CNDD-FDD video with messages it deemed hate speech. In April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international leaders condemned an Imbonerakure video that showed calls for rape and death chants targeting the political opposition.
The Human Rights Watch organization has called for sanctions against Imbonerakure individuals in Burundi responsible for summary executions, torture and other serious human rights violations.
Image: YouTube CNDD-FDD file