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Burundi: “I Look At My Children, I’m Afraid We’ll Kill Them”

Given the anguish in Bujumbura, Pierre Nkurunziza’s first public statement, the Burundian president, since the failure of the attempt to overthrow it, is slightly disconcerting. “Today is Sunday and it is a holiday, everyone is at mass,” the head of state begins to press to the press gathered at the office of the presidency in the center of Bujumbura, before To specify the nature of his concern: an “attack” of the Chabab. The Somali jihadist group broadcast a video a few days ago, promising to attack Uganda and Burundi, two countries that form the foundation of Amisom, the mission of the African Union in Somalia, which is waging war on Islamist insurgents.

A threat chabab, this must be studied with all due seriousness, but in the context, the fact that Pierre Nkurunziza speaks only of this hypothetical attack and none of those that took place these last days in his capital, Is not such as to reassure Burundi.

But Burundi is afraid. After thirty-six hours of uncertainty, Wednesday’s attempt to putsch failed. The mutineers, numbering a few hundred, did not succeed in storming the Burundi National Radio and Television (RTNB), and abandoned the fight. Seventeen of them, arrested, have already been charged with “attempting to overthrow the institutions” . Their leader, General Godefroid Niyombare, can not be found.“They have suffered degrading treatment,” said one of the lawyers of the group, Fabien Segatwa.

“It’s a crime to attack a hospital”

The effect of the shock wave of the putsch within the army is still difficult to measure. In some of the insurgent camps, dissensions appeared between the soldiers. The Loyalists, on the other hand, have demonstrated their strength, reinforced by a parallel chain of command.

They rejected two successive attacks on the radio, led by General Major Cyrille Ndayirukiye, the number two of the coup. When the mutineers gave up, there were several dozen deaths in the center, according to a diplomatic source. Wounded fled across the city. Three of them took refuge in Boumerec, a private hospital, in a neighborhood close to the center. The police brought out all the patients present, including a man who had just undergone surgery from a tumor in the abdomen, and believed that his last days had come, while men in uniforms threatened to kill him. “They did not know Cyril’s face, they were looking for wounded men to kill them,” a witness whispered .

The police then invested in the hospital. In the small wing where the emergency room is located, three putschists were entrenched. The one “was to have a pistol,” said the witness, who was present at the scene, who said, as well as another source, that one of the soldiers “fired, wounding one of the policemen . The latter withdrew, went to seek reinforcements, and then launched an assault on the hospital, while the patients were transported in disaster to other establishments.


The Boumerec, a very recent structure, has its walls riddled with bullets. A great chaos reigns in one of the wings where the last moments of the three putschists, whose fate is unknown, took place. “It is a violation of humanitarian law, it is a crime to attack a hospital,” said one of the administrators, who said he had to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

Rumors and accusations

The fear. This is the key word of Bujumbura. And this is precisely at this point the effect sought by those on the side of the government who want the demonstrations against a third term of office of Mr. Nkurunziza to cease now by the intimidation and panic created By attacking all private radios and preventing them from broadcasting.

In all neighborhoods, one lives every moment, usually, at the rhythm of their permanent flow of denials. This silence reinforces the threat of exactions that in the neighborhoods is feared to be unleashed against the population. “I’m afraid, I’m so afraid, I’m watching my children, I’m afraid we’ll kill them,” said the mother of Nyakabiga, also mentioning the passage of convoys with police officers And the Imbonerakure (the ruling party’s Youth League) in civilian clothes, who shoot gusts in the air and shouting, “We are going to wash you!” ( “Kubamesa!” ) Gesture of passing a blade under the throat.

On the avenue of the Republic encumbered with ashes, stones and debris of the barricades of the last weeks, the manifestation of the day, Saturday, is meager. The districts of the protest are sounded. We do not give a name any more, for fear of seeing those responsible for the demonstrations arrested by the Documentation, the Burundian intelligence services.

Rumors are running. The accusations fly like stones. Some even accuse the putschists of being part of a conspiracy of power to justify the crushing of the dispute. In the neighborhoods, the soldiers had maintained a constant neutrality since the demonstrations had begun, and even in some cases they had come face to face with the police, which were fiercely anti-demonstrators. On Friday in Musaga, a policeman armed with a Kalashnikov fired despite the presence of journalists in the pick-up of a colonel who was passing with his escort. The skid had been narrowly avoided. But after the putsch, which operated a form of split in this unit of the army painfully preserved, the inhabitants of the districts are no longer certain of their confidence. “There are some, we’ve known them on the school benches, so we trust, the others do not know,” murmurs a man who goes out shopping to store food for days To come, which promise to be tense.

“We talked to the military, they told us that if we were to demonstrate today, we had to do it calmly,” said one demonstrator. On Monday, the collective opposed to a third term of the president calls for a new day of demonstrations.


Written by How Africa

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