Willy Nyamitwe, the highly vocal spokesman for Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, has again taken to social media – this time to condemn a Washington Post story on poorly vetted United Nations peacekeepers from Burundi, and to blame Rwanda for advancing it.
“A story sponsored by Rwanda cannot be reliable,” was Nyamitwe’s response to a piece by Kevin Sieff, the Post’s Africa bureau chief, that explored challenges and failures of the United Nations in assuring that peacekeeping forces do not violate human rights or include members with a history of violations elsewhere.
In this case, three peacekeepers serving in the Central African Republic were sent back to Burundi when allegations of human rights violations were deemed credible enough to end their role in the mission.
“The three cases point to a deeper problem: Even as the United Nations’ peacekeeping responsibilities grow, it has proven incapable of excluding potential human rights violators from its ranks,” Sieff wrote, detailing the financial and logistical challenges of managing 16 peacekeeping missions around the globe.
Government and military officials in Burundi did not respond to messages about the three officers for his story, he wrote. But Nyamitwe was quick to do so, particularly because of the reporting and interviews done in Rwanda.
“Some journalists based in Rwanda must demonize Burundi to be accepted or are paid for this purpose,” Nyammitwe responded in one Twitter message. “The story is part of a broader animosity towards all the Burundi soldiers who defeated Sindumuja,” he said in another, using a term that often refers to insurgents.
Nyamitwe is recovering from a November 28 assassination attempt that Burundi blamed Rwanda for orchestrating, adding to the tensions between the two since Nkurunziza’s 2015 bid for a third term sparked political crisis.
Image: Willy Nyamitwe