Category Archives: Central Africa

Burundi – radio station closed amid protests

Nation

Arrests, radio station shut as Burundi hit by fresh protests

A senior police official said at least 320 people had been arrested in the unrest.

A protester runs past a Burundian police riot

A protester runs past a Burundian police riot van in Musaga, on the outskirts of Bujumbura on April 27, 2015 on the second day of protests. AFP PHOTO | SIMON MAINA

BUJUMBURA

Authorities in Burundi arrested a leading dissident and shut down the main independent radio station Monday as they battled a second day of demonstrations against a bid by the president to cling to power for a third term.

The army was also deployed around the capital Bujumbura, after the Red Cross said two people were shot dead in clashes with police in the capital Bujumbura on Sunday. A third person died from their wounds and two more were killed in alleged overnight attacks by ruling party militia.

The unrest erupted on Sunday after the ruling CNDD-FDD party, which has been accused of intimidating opponents, designated President Pierre Nkurunziza its candidate in the June 26 presidential election.

A senior police official said at least 320 people had been arrested in the unrest.

The president, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian, has been in power since 2005. Opposition figures and rights groups say his attempt to stay put goes against the constitution as well as the peace deal that ended a civil war in 2006.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the 13-year conflict, and there are fears the upsurge in political tensions could plunge the country back into violence.

On Monday demonstrators were back on the streets, with police using tear gas in Cibitoke, in the north of Bujumbura, to prevent around 1,000 demonstrators reaching the centre. Sporadic clashes continued later Monday in Musaga district, AFP reporters said.

Leading human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa was also arrested. A witness, who asked not to be named, said Mbonimpa was arrested “brutally” during a police raid on the headquarters of a media association.

Mbonimpa’s lawyer, Armel Niyongere, said he had not been informed of the charges against his client but believed “the arrest is linked to his call for demonstrations today”.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for Vital Nshimirimana, head of a prominent NGO forum.

INTIMIDATION

“This is only the beginning. The movement will not stop until Nkurunziza announces he is no longer candidate,” Nshimirimana, who has gone into hiding, told AFP in a telephone interview.

“The Burundian people and international community are witness to the fact that our protests are peaceful,” he said, condemning the violent crackdown.

The government has banned all protests, and on Monday also shut down Burundi’s main independent radio station.

“The radio is off the air after a decision by the authorities,” said Gilbert Niyonkuru, head of programming at the influential African Public Radio (RPA), which has for months been reporting on government intimidation of opponents.

Broadcasts by the station’s studios outside of the capital Burundi have also been halted, with station officials saying they had been accused of “complicity and participation in an insurrectional movement.”

Relatives of Sunday’s slain demonstrators told AFP that they were shot at close range by police.

MILITIA

But speaking on state television, Bujumbura’s mayor Saidi Juma claimed the pair were killed by other demonstrators.

Two further deaths during overnight violence were confirmed by the army.

At least 15,000 Burundians have fled the country to neighbouring Rwanda in recent weeks, according to the UN’s refugee agency, which has warned that those numbers could rise.

Many are fleeing threats by the pro-government militia Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party. Rights groups allege that the militia has been armed and trained over the past year in order to help Nkurunziza remain in office.

The European Union said violence, arrests of human rights activists, restrictions on the media and an outflow of people into neighbouring countries had no place in an electoral process.

“The upcoming elections must be credible, inclusive and non-violent,” it said, adding that its support and observer mission presence were related to these criteria.

The US embassy in Bujumbura said it was also watching the situation closely and warned it would “hold accountable those responsible for violence against the civilian population”.

After Sunday’s protest deaths, the African Union appealed to Burundi’s government to “exercise the highest restraint and protect the population”.

The influential Catholic Church has also spoken out against the president’s plans to stay put.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned recently the country was at a “crossroads” between a fair vote and a route back to its “horrendously violent past”.

Burundi – three more killed in protests over Nkurunziza third term

Al Jazeera

Three more protesters killed in Burundi clashes

At least six people are killed in protests over president’s bid for re-election as key human rights activist arrested.

Burundi – police battle anti-Nkurunziza protestors

BBC

Police in Burundi have clashed with thousands of protesters angered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office.

The government has banned protests, deployed the army and shut down the main independent radio station, saying it was disrupting the peace.

Police have fired tear gas and water cannon, while protesters have set up barricades in the capital, Bujumbura.

At least three people were killed on Sunday as police dispersed crowds.

Mr Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, has warned that anyone who wants to create problems for the governing party would find himself “in trouble”.

Former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya, who was involved in the peace process that ended more than a decade of ethnic conflict, has warned that Burundi could return to war.

Under the constitution, presidents can only be elected to two terms in office but Mr Nkurunziza’s allies say his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament.

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At the scene: Maud Jullien, BBC News, Bujumbura

Protest in Bujumbura, 27 April 2015
Protesters march alongside soldiers to avoid being tear-gassed by riot police

In the Cibitoke neighbourhood, where some of the most violent clashes have been taking place, thousands came out to protest.

The road was black from burnt tires. Riot police and soldiers were everywhere. Protestors told us the police had been firing live rounds, and handed us a bullet case for proof. The presidency denies security forces ever used live fire.

In the same neighbourhood a young man told us his father was killed on Sunday by people he believes are pro-government militia men. If this is true, it is the type of development that many have been dreading: The involvement of armed civilians in the electoral row.

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African Public Radio, known as “voice of the voiceless”, is one of three radio stations whose live broadcasts have been stopped.

Police also arrested the prominent human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa.

He had previously asked the ruling party not to put the president up for a third term in June’s election, arguing that it would be a violation of the constitution.

A military officer tries to control protesters in Bujumbura, April 27, 2015
The military were deployed as well as riot police
A Burundian riot policeman sprays tear gas on opposition protesters in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi Monday, April 27, 2015
Riot police used tear gas on demonstrators…
Opposition protesters and others hold their hands in the air when confronted by Burundian riot police in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi Monday, April 27, 2015
… some of whom surrendered

The United States has condemned the president’s bid for a third term saying in a press statement that the country is “losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy”.

Mr Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005, when a 12-year civil war officially ended.

More than 300,000 people died in the conflict between the minority Tutsi-dominated army and mainly Hutu rebel groups, such as Mr Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD.

Burundi"s President Pierre Nkurunziza addresses delegates of the ruling Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie - Forces pour Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD) party during their congress in the capital Bujumbura, April 25, 2015

Burundi – clashes over president’s attempt for third term

Al Jazeera/allAfrica

Photo: World Economic Forum/Eric Miller

President Nkurunziza’s plans to run for a third term have been described as unconstitutional

Riot police in Burundi have used water canon, tear gas, and live bullets to disperse crowds protesting against the president’s decision to seek a third term.

Witnesses said police clashed with demonstrators in four districts of the capital Bujumbura on Sunday after President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government banned protests for or against his move.

At least one police officer and a protester were injured in the disturbances, according to the Reuters news agency. The AFP news agency said two protesters had been killed, citing witnesses, but Al Jazeera could not independently verify the report.

Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party nominated Nkurunziza as its presidential candidate on Saturday, prompting hundreds of civil society groups to condemn the move as a “coup” against the constitution, which limits leaders to two terms in office.

Those opposed to a third term also say it goes against the spirit of a peace deal signed in 2000 that has kept Burundi calm for a decade since a civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in the small nation ended in 2005.

The UN and Rwandan officials say just over 17,000 Burundians have fled into neighbouring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo since mid-March due to rising fear of violence in the run-up to the June 26 presidential election.

“We deplore the way police acted with violence against a peaceful demonstration,” Janvier Bigirimana, a civil society activist, said of Saturday’s events.

Interior Minister Edouard Nduwimana said the demonstrations were illegal because the government had banned any protest for or against the president pursuing a third term.

Hundreds of people in Burundi have protested the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s renewed nomination for a third … see more »

Burundi – violence in Bujumbura after Nurunzipza goes for third term

BBC

Deadly Burundi protests after president seeks third term

A riot police officer sprays teargas on residents participating in street protests in Burundi
Police used tear gas to disperse angry protesters

At least one person has been shot dead in violent clashes in Burundi, a day after President Pierre Nkurunziza controversially launched his bid for a third term in office.

Hundreds defied a ban on demonstrations to take to the streets of the capital Bujumbura.

Police shot live ammunition in the air to disperse them.

President Nkurunziza was nominated by his governing CNDD-FDD party, a move opponents say is unconstitutional.

They warn it threatens a peace deal that ended the country’s 12-year civil war in 2005, which killed more than 300,000 people.

Angry protesters on Sunday threw rocks and lit tyres. Police responded with tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition, blocking access to the centre of the capital.

Street protests in Burundi in 2015
Demonstrators lit tyres and lobbed rocks
Street protests in Burundi in 2015
The protesters have been enraged by the president’s decision to seek another term

Police also threatened to shut down a private radio station unless it stopped live broadcasts about the protests.

At his nomination by a special party congress, President Nkurunziza said: “I call people to go to the election in peace.

“But I would like to warn everyone: Whoever wants to create problems with the ruling party elected by the people, he’ll find himself in trouble,” he added, Reuters reported.

Mr Nkurunziza has served two terms as president, coming to the office at the end of the civil war.

Burundi’s constitution only allows the president to be elected twice. But Mr Nkurunziza’s supporters argue he is eligible for another term since he was appointed by parliament in 2005.

More than 8,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries in recent weeks citing violence ahead of June’s presidential election, the UN refugee agency says.

Burundi"s President Pierre Nkurunziza addresses delegates of the ruling Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie - Forces pour Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD) party during their congress in the capital Bujumbura, April 25, 2015

Sudan – joint JEM-Minni-Minawi attack reported in Darfur

Sudan Tribune

April 25, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – A joint force of Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked a South Darfur town near the South Sudanese border, a rebel military spokesperson said on Saturday.

JPEG - 18.4 kb
Rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi (Photo: Reuters)

South Darfur governor, Adam Mahmoud Jar El-Nabi confirmed Saturday that the rebel fighters have crossed into his state coming from the neighbouring South Sudan.

During the past weeks, the Sudanese army soldiers and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militiamen prevented Darfur rebel groups from penetrating inside the Sudanese territory through West Kordofan and East Darfur. Also Sudanese warplanes bombarded several areas in South Sudan where the rebels allegedly were camping.

In a short statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday evening, SLM-MM military spokesperson Ahmed Adaroub said claimed that the joint rebel force now controls Buram, 80km south of the South Darfur capital, Nyala.

SLM-MM and JEM fighters “captured the town on Saturday 25 April 2015 at 10 am after fierce battle in which many government soldiers and it’s militias were killed,” Adaroub claimed.

He added that further details about the operation would be released soon.

From Kass where he was visiting the families of gunmen killed by the UNAMID soldiers, Jar al-Nabi stated that RSF militiamen monitor a “significant force” of JEM and SLM-MM rebels coming from the South Sudan.

The governor said the battle between the government forces and the rebels would begin soon, adding they would not allow them to reach the mountainous area of Jebel Marra.

Sudan Tribune reporters in the state noticed a massive mobilisation of government troops since last Thursday saying that around 500 military vehicles left Nyala heading to Buram and El-Radoom which is on a triangle area bordering Central Africa Republic and South Sudan.

The director of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Mohmaed Atta said that the SRF troops are carrying intensive operations in Darfur against the rebel factions and vowed to crush the rebellion this year.

Earlier this year, Atta renewed accusations that South Sudanese government continues to harbour and support Darfur rebel groups but Juba denied the claim.

Since last December the government forces launched a military campaign on the rebel positions in North and Central Darfur states.

(ST)


Burundi – Nkurunziza to go for term

BBC

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza confirms third-term biD

Burundian soldier guards ruling party congress - 25 April
There was tight security for Saturday’s ruling party congress

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has been nominated as a candidate for a third term in office, a move that his opponents say is unconstitutional.

Security has been increased and demonstrations banned following opposition calls to step up protests.

Speculation about Mr Nkurunziza’s candidacy has led to major protests in the capital Bujumbura in recent weeks.

There are fears the political crisis could destabilise a country only recently emerged from civil war.

The president’s ruling CNDD-FDD party nominated him at a special congress on Saturday morning.

The presidential election is due to be held in June.

But the opposition says the move violates the country’s constitution and a peace accord that ended the war.

The UN refugee agency says more than 8,000 people have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent weeks because of “pre-election violence and intimidation”.

A former rebel leader, Mr Nkurunziza took office in 2005 following the end of a 12-year conflict, which killed more than 300,000 people.

He was re-elected in June 2010 but the vote was boycotted by the opposition, which complained of fraud in the earlier local elections.

Opposition leaders and international observers have since complained of a growing crackdown on opposition parties and the media.