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President Ndayishimiye reshuffled govt in apparent attempt to ensure loyalty of inner circle amid ruling party divisions.
Govt reshuffle exposed ruling party divisions. PM Gervais Ndirakobuca 2 Oct presented review of govt performance to parliament, acknowledging achievement gaps in several sectors, including interior, justice and education. However, govt reshuffle announced next day seemed to reward ministers for their loyalty, rather than performance, with President Ndayishimiye replacing health, agriculture, public service and youth ministers, while those in charge of poorly performing sectors stayed on. Reshuffle came as Sec Gen of ruling party, Révérien Ndikuriyo, recently toured country in apparent attempt to bolster his popularity; Ndikuriyo’s mounting ambitions could presage growing frictions with Ndayishimiye.
Authorities arrested opposition party leader. Authorities 17 Oct arrested head of opposition party Council for Democracy and Sustainable Development in Burundi, Kefa Nibizi, over accusations of undermining state security days after party blamed “unprecedented misery” on “failing leadership”; Nibizi granted provisional release 21 Oct. In separate development, Supreme Court 2 Oct denied bail to former PM Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, who has been held in pre-trial detention since April on charges of undermining state security.
Burundi saw wins and losses at UN Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly 10 Oct elected Burundi and 14 other member states to Human Rights Council for three-year term. Human Rights Council 12 Oct extended mandate of special rapporteur for Burundi for another year, citing continued “human rights violations and abuses” in country; Gitega expressed frustration, saying resolution was politically motivated. UN special rapporteur 25 Oct presented annual report on situation of human rights in Burundi to UN General Assembly, noted “shrinking civic space” and “growing pressure on political parties, civil society organisations and the media” ahead of 2025 legislative and municipal elections.
Suspected RED-Tabara rebels launched deadly attack along border with DR Congo for first time since 2021; President Ndayishimiye dismissed allegations of coup plot.
DR Congo-based rebels launched attack in Burundi after years-long lull. Gunmen 2 Sept ambushed civilian vehicles in Buringa area of Bubanza province, near economic capital Bujumbura, reportedly killing two and injuring one. As security forces deployed to area and subsequently claimed to have repelled assailants, local sources suggested up to 60 govt and allied forces dead, particularly among ruling party youth militia Imbonerakure. In Twitter statement, DR Congo-based rebel group RED-Tabara – which Burundi has been fighting in DR Congo’s South Kivu province since August 2022 – 3 Sept claimed to have “attacked and destroyed a guidance station for aircraft approaching Bujumbura Airport”, in first such claim since Sept 2021.
Tensions ran high in Gitega amid clampdown on judiciary, allegations of coup plot. After authorities in Aug imprisoned at least ten judges on charges of “undermining the security of the state” and “corruption”, Ndayishimiye 1 Sept urged judges to abandon “corrupt” practices, accusing them of sabotaging country’s justice system. Ndayishimiye 25 Sept dismissed allegations of coup plot circulating on social media as rumours spread by “individuals intent on tarnishing Burundi’s international reputation”.
In other important developments. Ndayishimiye 5 Sept presided over Extraordinary Summit of East African Community in Kenya; heads of state extended mandate East African Force in eastern DRC by three months.
Army clashed with anti-Kigali rebels near Rwandan border, while main opposition party continued to crumble with disunity.
Army engaged anti-Kigali rebels based in Burundi. Armed forces 3 Aug engaged Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels from Rwanda in Mabayi district, Cibitoke province; clashes reportedly left six rebels and three soldiers dead, and forced residents to flee. Army’s operations commander subsequently vowed to intensify night-time patrols in area, reflecting army’s growing commitment to combat anti-Kigali rebels against backdrop of improving relations between Burundi and Rwanda. Unidentified assailants 9 Aug killed local leader of ruling party youth militia Imbonerakure, Isidore Niyongabo, at his home in Mabayi commune; locals accused FLN rebels of killing Niyongabo for collaborating with security forces during aforementioned operation.
Standoff continued between rival factions of main opposition party. Group of ten dissident executives of National Congress for Freedom (CNL) party 14 Aug proclaimed Marie Immaculée Ntacobakimvuna as interim party president to replace CNL President Agathon Rwasa; CNL wing loyal to Rwasa rejected move. Meanwhile, interior ministry 18 Aug prohibited planned gathering of party’s political bureau loyal to Rwasa.
In other important developments. Ahead of 2025 legislative elections, senate in Aug started consultations on removal of ethnic-based quotas in public sector employment provided in Burundi’s constitution and 2000 Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation.
Main opposition party entered near-complete paralysis and Burundi delegation boycotted UN periodic review of country’s human rights record.
Main opposition party experienced split in leadership. National Congress for Freedom (CNL) President, Agathon Rwasa, 28 June dismissed 11 members of CNL’s political bureau, labelling them as “dissidents” and accusing them of insubordination and collusion with Interior Minister Martin Niteretse. In response, ten suspended members 4 July announced Rwasa’s suspension, accusing him of plotting against CNL, embezzlement and misappropriation of assets. Group thereafter named CNL Sec-Gen Simon Bizimungu as temporary party leader, who in turn urged CNL members to disregard announcement.
Burundi’s UN walkout deepened human rights concerns. Burundi delegation 3 July walked out of UN Human Rights Committee session in Geneva, Switzerland. Bujumbura cited presence at session of “criminals”, notably Armel Niyongere, one of 12 human rights activists and journalists convicted in Burundi for their alleged involvement in 2015 coup attempt. Committee same day expressed “deep regret” at move, said review of Burundi’s human rights record would continue without delegation. NGO Human Rights Watch 5 July said walkout was indicative of Burundian authorities’ “contempt for human rights”.
Imbonerakure violence continued. Two groups of ruling party youth militia Imbonerakure, including one returning from DR Congo, overnight 30 June-1 July engaged in violent clashes along Burundian bank of Rusizi River, reportedly leaving three dead. Imbonerakure 15 July allegedly beat 14-year-old to death in Ntega commune, Kirundo province, and around 17 July killed resident of Muhanga commune, Ngozi province.
Govt suspended main opposition party as authorities stepped up attempts to silence dissent ahead of 2025 legislative elections.
Govt suspended main opposition party. Interior Minister Martin Niteretse 2 June banned main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) from any activities, citing “irregularities” during congresses held in March and April, which saw several party executives opposed to CNL President Agathon Rwasa ousted. Rwasa and other party officials in following days denounced “attempt to weaken the CNL ahead of the 2025 legislative elections”. Authorities 10-17 June arrested at least 16 CNL activists and party officials on spurious charges. Meanwhile, ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure 4 June reportedly lynched CNL activist Gabriel Ndayishimiye in Gitega province, and 7 June launched census of population by political affiliation in Kayogoro commune, Makamba province, with CNL denouncing manoeuvre aimed at dissuading locals from openly supporting CNL.
In other important developments. Burundi 14-28 June participated in East African Community’s military exercise aiming to foster cooperation among military, police and civilian components of seven EAC member states.
Dissenters continued to suffer violence and harassment, anti-Kigali rebels staged attack near Rwandan border, and Burundi hosted regional peace summit on DR Congo.
Persecution of govt critics continued. Provincial security forces 4-9 May arrested and reportedly tortured three members of main opposition party, National Congress for Freedom (CNL), in Bubanza province, allegedly on ruling party Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo’s orders to track down “troublesome elements”. Provincial authorities 5 May detained three CNL activists in Gitega province, releasing them three days later. Violence by ruling party youth militia, Imbonerakure, also continued. Notably, Imbonerakure 5 May macheted to death local CNL leader in Ruyigi province. Meanwhile, appeals court in Bujumbura city 2 May upheld ten-year prison term for journalist Floriane Irangabiye for “undermining the integrity of the national territory”.
Rebel activity persisted near Rwandan border. In Cibitoke province, anti-Kigali National Liberation Forces rebels 14 May reportedly ambushed members of Imbonerakure in Mabayi commune, killing two and injuring four before military pushed them back into Kibira forest.
In other important developments. Authorities early May indicted former PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, who was detained in April, for “undermining the internal security of the state, undermining the proper functioning of the national economy and illegal enrichment”. Bunyoni’s arrest puts an end to long-running power struggle between him and President Ndayishimiye, both of whom come from ruling party’s old guard, and comes in context of increased pressure from International Monetary Fund to sort out country’s highly corrupt foreign currency exchange sector, in which Bunyoni was thought to have a big hand. Burundi 6 May hosted summit of Regional Oversight Mechanism of Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DR Congo and Great Lakes region in bid to revitalise peace and cooperation initiatives; Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Kenyan President William Ruto both failed to attend (see Rwanda).
Politically motivated violence continued, while relations with Rwanda improved further.
Political opposition continued to face harassment and violence. Locals 6 April discovered lifeless body of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) activist, Gilbert Ndacayisaba, in Ngozi province (north); witnesses claimed Ndacayisaba had been under pressure from ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure to join their ranks. CNL was also subject to bureaucratic obstruction: party congress scheduled for 14 April was postponed after govt refused permission due to administrative error.
Burundi’s relations with Rwanda thawed further. Ruling party 2 April sent high-level delegation to Kigali to attend 35th anniversary celebration of Rwandan President Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF); visit marked new step toward reconciliation following series of high-level bilateral talks (see Rwanda).
In other important developments. Security forces 18 April discovered three bodies reportedly tied together in Cibitoke province (north west); locals said bodies might be those of anti-Kigali rebels from National Liberation Forces. Also in Cibitoke, locals 22 April found two bodies wearing army uniforms. Authorities 21 April detained former PM Alain Guillaume Bunyoni (2020-2022) on accusations of “undermining state security”; NGO Amnesty International 26 April welcomed “opportunity for the Burundian authorities to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations”, however expressed concern over “lack of transparency” around detention.
Security forces and ruling party affiliates continued to harass civil society, and Gitega deployed troops to DR Congo as part of East African Community regional force.
Imbonerakure attacked opposition and civilians. Security forces 5-6 March detained at least 15 members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) after brawl with ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure in Bujumbura province. Suspected Imbonerakure 8-11 March allegedly repeatedly attacked home of CNL member Elysée Kabura in Giharo commune, Rutana province, forcing him to go into hiding; and overnight 11-12 March reportedly stabbed two civilians in Buringa village, Bubanza province. Meanwhile, NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch 14 March urged authorities to “immediately release” five human rights defenders detained since Feb on charges including undermining state security, denounced “worsening climate for independent civil society in Burundi”.
Burundian troops joined regional force in eastern DR Congo. Approximately 100 Burundian soldiers 5-16 March arrived in eastern DR Congo’s North Kivu province as part of East African Community (EAC) regional force to help stem advance of M23 rebellion. Burundian forces around 23 March reportedly took over several villages in Masisi territory after M23 withdrew in compliance with timetable adopted by EAC in Feb (see DR Congo). Meanwhile in DR Congo’s South Kivu province, where Burundian forces are deployed as part of bilateral agreement, Burundian rebel group National Liberation Forces 5-6 March reportedly ambushed Burundian soldiers in Uvira territory, with unknown casualties.
Diplomatic relations between Burundi and Rwanda continued to improve. High-level delegation 5 March travelled to Kigali, met with Rwandan President Kagame; officials likely discussed situation in eastern DR Congo and extradition from Rwanda of individuals suspected of involvement in 2015 coup attempt against then-President Nkurunziza; deployment of Burundian troops to fight M23 in DR Congo could however hamper Burundi-Rwanda rapprochement (see Rwanda).
Human rights record received mixed reviews from local and international actors, and relations with Rwanda warmed up.
National and international bodies recorded modest human rights improvement. Local NGO Burundi Human Rights Initiative 1 Feb published report covering state of human rights in country in 2022, noting modest progress but highlighting continued impunity for ruling party’s youth militia, Imbonerakure. During three-day visit to Burundi, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore 2-4 Feb held meetings with President Ndayishimiye, govt ministers and civil society; welcomed “progress” in human rights record, but said “challenges” remain, particularly regarding rule of law and women’s rights, and called on country to collaborate with UN special rapporteur for Burundi. Meanwhile, police 14 Feb arrested five human rights activists en route to Ugandan capital Kampala on accusations of financing terrorism.
Ruling party figure proposed removal of ethnic quotas. Senate President Emmanuel Sinzohagera 6 Feb called for repeal of ethnic balance quotas in public sector employment provided in 2018 constitution and Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation; move, if taken, could legitimise exclusion of Tutsi minority and may become issue in view of 2025 legislative elections, though Hutus already hold almost all positions in public sector.
In other important developments. Rwandan President Kagame 4 Feb visited Burundi for first time since 2012 to attend extraordinary East African Community heads of state summit in Bujumbura city, held bilateral talks with Ndayishimiye on sidelines of summit. FM Albert Shingiro 9 Feb said encounter represented progress in normalising ties, though reiterated call on Rwanda to hand over suspects of 2015 coup attempt. Meanwhile, Congolese civil society mid-Feb questioned mission of Burundian forces in South Kivu province, particularly their presence around gold mine in Luhwindja chiefdom, Mwenga territory, citing absence of armed group activity in area.
Military faced accusations of human rights abuses in South Kivu (DR Congo) and Cibitoke province, while ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure continued intimidating population.
Congolese Tutsi community accused military of attacking ethnic Tutsi in DR Congo. Burundian troops’ continued support to Congolese army against Burundian and Congolese armed groups in South Kivu (including Tutsi-led RED-Tabara rebel group opposing Burundi’s Hutu-dominated govt), fuelled fears among Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge community. Local Banyamulenge chiefs from Minembwe territory 4 Jan sent letter to Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye in his capacity as chair of East African Community, denouncing alleged ethnic cleansing of their community by Burundian and Congolese forces alongside Congolese Maï-Maï armed groups. Media outlet La Libre Afrique 19 Jan reported Burundian forces had lost 40 soldiers since deployment in South Kivu in Aug 2022.
Locals accused military of inflicting degrading treatment on local population. As military continued operations against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels based in Kibira forest (north west). Defence Minister Alain Tribert Mutabazi 10 Jan hosted meeting with residents in Mabayi, Cibitoke province; residents accused army elements of collaborating with rebels and complained about behaviour of security forces, including their raping, beating and coercing labour from local population.
Imbonerakure continued harassing population amid general climate of impunity. Five members of ruling party youth militia Imbonerakure 3 Jan stabbed and injured individual in Birohe locality, Gitega province, allegedly due to dispute over theft of personal belongings. Meanwhile, after residents 1 and 16 Jan found dead bodies with signs of torture in Buganda and Rugombo communes, Cibitoke province, local authorities buried bodies without prior investigation.
In other important developments. During ruling CNDD-FDD party congress in capital Gitega, President Ndayishimiye 22 Jan called out corruption in state administration.
Authorities took steps to hold to account ruling party supporters as U.S. imposed sanctions on former PM for alleged human rights abuses; military operations against rebels continued near border with Rwanda.
Ruling party supporters came under scrutiny for human rights record. Amid general atmosphere of impunity, several members of ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure brought before courts for suspected role in acts of violence against civilians and opposition activists. Notably, Bubanza High Court 13 Dec sentenced one Imbonerakure to 20 years in prison for stabbing man to death in Bubanza province (west) on 7 Dec. Meanwhile, U.S. State Dept 13 Dec re-imposed sanctions, including asset freeze and travel ban, on notorious ruling party hardliner, former PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, for alleged human rights violations during 2015 political crisis; U.S. had sanctioned Bunyoni in 2015, but lifted sanctions when he became PM in 2021.
President Ndayishimiye lashed out at officials as part of anti-corruption drive. Ndayishimiye 6 Dec vowed to combat corruption, notably accusing senior official responsible for public procurement control of alleged malpractices. Police in Rumonge province (south west) 7-10 Dec arrested three local officials and one governor adviser, all ruling party members, for alleged misappropriation of building materials.
Operations against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels continued at Rwandan border. Amid ongoing fighting between govt forces and Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels in Kibira forest, Citiboke province (north west), forest rangers 2 Dec found nine bodies in Mabayi commune.
President Ndayishimiye moved to consolidate control over ruling party and engaged in intense diplomacy on security crisis in eastern DR Congo.
Ndayishimiye restructured ruling party’s governing bodies. Ruling CNDD-FDD party’s council of elders, chaired by Ndayishimiye, 2 Nov nominated new general commissioners and replaced several party administrators; restructuring of party’s governing bodies comes amid power struggle between Ndayishimiye and CNDD-FDD Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo.
Bujumbura took active role in regional diplomacy. Ndayishimiye, who has been East African Community (EAC) rotating president since June, 4 Nov hosted former Kenyan president and EAC’s peace process facilitator for DR Congo (DRC), Uhuru Kenyatta; 7 Nov convened rare summit of EAC heads of state on sidelines of UN climate change conference in Egypt to push for concerted response to security crisis in eastern DRC. Ndayishimiye 23 Nov attended mini-summit on peace and security in eastern DRC in Angolan capital Luanda, and 28 Nov opened third session of EAC-led Nairobi talks between Congolese govt and several armed groups active in country’s east (see DR Congo).
In other important developments. In Cibitoke province, security forces 12-16 Nov clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels in Kibira forest, killing at least seven and arresting four. International Criminal Court 25 Nov reported progress on investigations into bloody aftermath of 2015 coup attempt, saying it intends to issue arrest warrants shortly.
Security forces launched deadly offensive against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels as govt reopened land border with Rwanda; authorities faced resistance over land expropriations.
Security forces clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels near Rwandan border. After armed forces late Sept launched offensive against National Liberation Front (FNL) – Hutu-led group of Rwandan origin – in Kibira forest, Cibitoke province, security source mid-Oct reported at least 42 rebels and a dozen soldiers killed; fighting reportedly displaced unspecified number of residents. Meanwhile, govt late Oct announced reopening of border with Rwanda after years-long closure; Bujumbura had previously conditioned border reopening to extradition by Kigali of 2015 coup plotters.
Land expropriations sparked tensions across country. Local media 6 Oct reported over 100 households dispossessed of their land over past week by ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure in Rugombe commune, Cibitoke province (north west), so local administration can reallocate land to ruling party members. In Bubanza province (west), over 200 people 10 Oct observed sit-in before governor’s office, protesting against authorities’ expropriation of 5,000 households from their lands in August to make way for construction of military camp. Meanwhile, in Muyinga province (north east), Imbonerakure 9 Oct reportedly arrested 70 supporters – most of them Muslims – of opposition Union for Peace and Democracy-Zigamibanga party for allegedly holding illegal gathering; 50 remained detained by police as of 18 Oct.
In other important developments. Fuel was back at petrol stations 5 Oct after President Ndayishimiye ended months-long standoff with country’s biggest oil distribution company Interpetrol that caused fuel shortages across country. European Union 25 Oct announced lifting sanctions on three senior officials, including PM Gervais Ndirakobuca and Senior Presidential Adviser Gen. Godefroid Bizimana, following “intensified dialogue” with Bujumbura on human rights record.
Political tensions ran high as President Ndayishimiye purged cabinet after alleging coup plot, and opposition faced obstruction during local elections.President appointed new PM after alleging coup plot. President Ndayishimiye 2 Sept warned of coup plot during meeting of govt officials in political capital Gitega, vowed to “defeat” anyone threatening him. In following days, Ndayishimiye launched high-level political purge. PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, close ally to former President Nkurunziza, and five ministers sacked 7-8 Sept; Interior Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca immediately appointed as new PM and confirmed by parliament; Ndayishimiye 7 Sept also replaced chief of presidential cabinet, Gen. Gabriel Nizigama, with Col. Aloys Sindayihebura, and sacked or redeployed 54 police provincial commissioners.Several opposition candidates denied running in local elections. Authorities in three municipalities of Ngozi province 7 Sept reportedly disallowed over dozen members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to run in 12 Sept local elections; on election day, local authorities allegedly removed four CNL candidates from ballot in Bugenyuzi commune, Karusi province. Local observers in Makamba province 12 Sept reported several irregularities favouring ruling party and obstructing participation of opposition, retired military members and ethnic Tutsis.Ruling party youth wing accused of politically motivated violent attacks. Local media 7 Sept reported that ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 2 Sept attempted to kill inhabitant of Busiga commune in Ngozi province for refusing to join ruling CNDD-FDD party. Suspected Imbonerakure 25 Sept beat into coma University of Burundi student in Bujumbura city for alleged affiliation with CNL. Meanwhile, as part of nationwide training campaign, group of Imbonerakure 4-6 Sept received military training in Cibitoke province; military official said they will join the fight against RED-Tabara rebels in DR Congo’s South Kivu province. Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Fortuné Gaétan Zongo, mid-Sept said country’s human rights record had not significantly improved since 2015.
Ruling party CNDD-FDD leader incited violence against dissenting voices, while hundreds of Burundian soldiers officially deployed to DR Congo. Ruling party CNDD-FDD Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo 2 Aug sanctioned killing anyone who “disrupts” national security as “legitimate”, urged CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure to continue night patrols. Imbonerakure continued to intimidate and harass population, in particular members of political opposition, in general climate of impunity. Notably, Imbonerakure elements 8 Aug killed one Rwandan national en route to visit Burundian family in Mugina commune, Cibitoke province; 13 Aug severely battered two members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Gashoho commune, Muyinga province. Fuel shortages in Aug impacted economic activities in major cities, notably economic capital Bujumbura, and heavily affected public transportation systems. After months of denial by Gitega and Kinshasa of any presence of Burundian army in DR Congo amid reports of Burundian forces fighting RED-Tabara rebels in South Kivu province, 600 Burundian troops 15 Aug officially crossed border into South Kivu; military authorities in South Kivu mid-Aug suggested Burundian contingent deployed as part of East African Community’s regional force agreed upon in April to thwart armed group violence in eastern DR Congo; Burundian military 26 Aug however said deployment is part of bilateral agreement between Congolese and Burundian authorities.
Harassment of govt opponents persisted; military operations against rebels in eastern DR Congo continued; and President Ndayishimiye assumed chairmanship of East African Community regional bloc. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 2 July allegedly battered individual to death in Ntega commune, Kirundo province, over accusations of stealing food. Suspected Imbonerakure around 8 July reportedly raided home of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom member Donatien Ndayishimiye in Mwumba commune, Ngozi province; local media denounced “assassination attempt”. Police 14 July arrested three Imbonerakure in Mparambo village, Cibitoke province, after discovering military uniforms at their house; authorities suspect group impersonated soldiers to commit robberies. Hundreds of soldiers and Imbonerakure (who reportedly received two months of accelerated military training) 14-16 July reportedly left Buganda and Rugombo communes in Cibitoke province for DR Congo’s South Kivu province to fight Tutsi-led RED-Tabara rebel group. NGO Burundi Human Rights Initiative 27 July said Burundi has secretly sent hundreds of troops and Imbonerakure to fight RED-Tabara in DR Congo since late 2021. Meanwhile, Rwandan rebels from Hutu-led National Liberation Front (FLN) reported still present in Cibitoke province: locals in Mabayi and Bukinanyana communes 14 July accused them of committing string of thefts in collusion with local retailers and Imbonerakure; also in Mabayi, soldiers 17 July found four dead bodies believed to be those of FLN rebels. On occasion of UN Human Rights Council’s session in Switzerland’s Geneva city, NGO Human Rights Watch 4 July denounced govt’s lack of cooperation with newly appointed UN special rapporteur on Burundi, reported “limited positive steps” under Ndayishimiye to tackle “systematic human rights violations”. Ndayishimiye elected chair of East African Community regional bloc for one year during 21-22 July summit, taking over from Kenyan President Kenyatta.
Authorities continued to harass political opposition, while President Ndayishimiye rejected dialogue with RED-Tabara rebel group contradicting earlier statement. Local authorities in Kizuka locality, Rumonge province, 12 June prohibited main opposition party National Congress for Freedom’s (CNL) office inauguration. Locals 14 June found body of CNL youth wing leader Jean-Paul Ntirampeba in Murwi commune, Cibitoke province, accused secret services of detaining and summarily executing him. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 19 June disrupted CNL third-anniversary celebrations in Giharo commune, Rutana province. After two-month face-off with National Assembly President Gélase Daniel Ndabirabe, CNL 22 June obtained authorisation to form parliamentary group. Meanwhile, eight soldiers 2 June drowned in Rusizi river, Citiboke province, en route to join Burundian forces deployed in DR Congo’s South Kivu province to fight RED-Tabara rebels. Ndayishimiye 8 June rejected any form of negotiation with RED-Tabara, one month after expressing interest in dialogue. Fighting between alleged Rwandan soldiers and Burundian rebel group National Liberation Front (FLN) 19-21 June reportedly left ten dead and eight injured in Mabayi commune, Cibitoke province. Amid improving relations between Burundi and EU since lifting of EU financial sanctions in Feb, EU ambassador to Burundi Claude Bochu 10 June said govt must increase financial transparency to receive budget support from EU, suspended in 2016.
Court sentenced a dozen opposition members to 15-year imprisonment, and military operations against rebels in eastern DR Congo continued. Harassment of political opposition continued. Ngozi tribunal 10 May sentenced 16 members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to 15 years in prison on charges of “attempted murder” following late-April clashes with ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure in Ngozi province. NGO Human Rights Watch 18 May alleged Burundian intelligence services, police and ruling party members continue committing large-scale abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention against political opponents, notably CNL members. Hundreds of Imbonerakure 15-22 May reportedly gathered at Vyizigiro stadium in Rumonge province to receive paramilitary training, potentially as part of new govt campaign to create military reserve force. Meanwhile, locals found bodies in Cibitoke province. Notably, forest guards 1 May found five bodies wearing Congolese army uniforms in Bukinanyana municipality; locals 8 May discovered bodies of three Rwandan rebels and one Burundian soldier in Mabayi commune. Country throughout month experienced nation-wide fuel shortage, particularly affecting public transport in major cities. In DR Congo’s South Kivu province, Congolese army 1 May clashed with Burundian soldiers and Imbonerakure allegedly trying to repatriate individuals wounded in fight against RED-Tabara (Tutsi-led group that opposes Burundi’s Hutu-dominated govt). President Ndayishimiye 10 May said he would welcome dialogue with RED-Tabara rebels should group ask for negotiations.
Imbonerakure harassed civilians, intelligence services reportedly abducted opposition supporter, and security operations against RED-Tabara rebel movement continued. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure continued to target civilians. During CNDD-FDD sec gen’s visit to Rumonge commune, Imbonerakure 2 April harassed and beat up local fruit vendors. Clashes between opposition party Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) and Imbonerakure 13 April left CNL member severely injured in Mpanda commune, Bubanza province, prompting arrest of 14 CNL members in Mpanda 16-17 April. Authorities 16 April launched national campaign to provide paramilitary training to at least 6,000 Imbonerakure, with view to potentially create Force de réserve et d’appui au développement du pays (FRAD), new reserve military force composed of civilians; first batch of 300 Imbonerakure 16 April completed training in Makamba province. Meanwhile, families accused intelligence service of arresting four people whom they suspected of collaborating with armed groups in Ndava commune, Cankuzo province, 31 March; intelligence services 7 April also allegedly kidnapped CNL member in Cibitoke province. Police collaborating with locals 3 April found two unidentified, tied-up bodies in Buganda commune, Cibitoke province; 8 April found another corpse in Buruhukiro zone, Rumonge commune. Concerns over economic situation rose, primarily in Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces (north west), where rise in commodity prices and fuel shortages paralysed fishing. Armed forces continued to fight RED-Tabara rebel movement, Tutsi-led group that opposes country’s Hutu-dominated govt, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Notably, soldiers and their allies, mai mai rebels, 13 April killed Congolese soldier and stole around 400 cows from local farmers in Mutarule, Uvira territory, South Kivu, DRC; around 90 additional Burundian soldiers 15 April crossed into South Kivu.
Suspected killings at hands of intelligence officers continued across country, insecurity persisted at border with DR Congo’s (DRC) South Kivu, and rapprochement with Rwanda forged ahead. Low-level violence continued to be reported. Notably, unknown assailant 6 March killed woman with machete in Karuzi province, unknown attackers same day stabbed to death man in Makamba province. Locals of Cibitoke province 11 March found three chained bodies, two men and one woman; reliable local sources alleged intelligence officers may have killed all three victims and dumped their bodies in locality; discoveries of corpses increased in frequency in Cibitoke province, with locals indicating that more than eight corpses were found in last five months. Locals 1 March also discovered two bodies in capital Bujumbura and another one in Kirundo province 2 March. Authorities reportedly continued to send soldiers to DRC’s South Kivu to fight Burundian rebels of Résistance pour un Etat de Droit (RED-Tabara); delegation of six governors from Burundian provinces bordering DRC 9 March met with South Kivu counterparts in Uvira territory, South Kivu province, to discuss common interests and ongoing insecurity in region, presence of Burundian soldiers on Congolese soil however not directly discussed. Meanwhile, Rwanda 7 March opened its border to Burundi; Burundian borders however remain closed as authorities insisted that Rwanda hand over those responsible for 2015 coup attempt first. President Ndayishimiye 15 March welcomed Rwandan delegation headed by defence minister, suggesting possible face-to-face meeting between Burundian and Rwandan presidents might take place soon.
Reports of ongoing army operations in eastern DR Congo (DRC), including alleged serious abuses, continued; President Ndayishimiye pursued diplomatic engagement as EU lifted financial sanctions. Although authorities denied presence in eastern DRC, reliable reports indicated that Burundian army (FNDB) stepped up its operations in DRC’s South Kivu with an estimated 600 Burundian soldiers 31 Jan-3 Feb reportedly crossing Lake Tanganyika into Fizi territory; many soldiers reportedly killed on battlefront or in attempts to reach it. Congolese armed forces (FARDC) 2 Feb killed 33 Mai Mai militiamen allied with Burundian rebels of Résistance pour un Etat de Droit (RED-Tabara) and National Liberation Front (FNL) in Uvira territory. Local media 3 Feb reported that Burundian military intelligence services allegedly executed at least 20 soldiers who were seeking official recognition of their mission in Uvira territory. Congolese civil society 2 Feb denounced grave human rights violations at hands of FNDB likely intensified by operations’ secretive and unofficial nature, notably said FNDB have killed over 70 civilians and caused 80,000 to flee villages since operations started in Dec. Intelligence services and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure continued to terrorise civilians and political opposition; notably, two armed men in police uniforms 8 Feb arrested opposition party National Freedom Congress (CNL) member in Bujumbura province’s Kanyosha commune. Accusations over collaboration with rebels created new opportunities for state-sanctioned violence; suspected RED-Tabara supporter 6 Feb died, reportedly after being tortured by intelligence agents in Cibitoke province. Meanwhile, Gitega pursued continental and multilateral diplomacy; notably, President Evariste Ndayishimiye 7 Feb met with Ethiopian counterpart and next day announced adhesion to African Peer Review Mechanism, which he said showed country’s contribution to good governance. Rwandan President Paul Kagame same day declared upcoming normalisation of bilateral relations. Ndayishimiye 15 Feb attended AU-EU summit in Belgian capital Brussels, first European visit since 2014; visit follows EU’s 8 Feb lift of financial sanctions imposed in March 2016 on Burundian administration; civil society groups 12 Feb criticised decision fearing it could further embolden repressive practices.
Insecurity persisted across country, armed forces and ruling party youth wing reportedly clashed with RED-Tabara rebel group in eastern DRC, and authorities continued to mend ties with neighbours. President Ndayishimiye 1 Jan held public forum during which he reiterated anger at country’s judiciary, threatened to fire public servants, notably magistrates, and said mining and energy sectors’ lack of professionalism explains country’s low ranking in economic indexes; Ndayishimiye also rehabilitated local elected officials previously accused of corruption and acknowledged torture cases at hands of intelligence services. Insecurity persisted across country with six incidents involving ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure alongside intelligence and security officials reported 1-13 Jan; notably, Imbonerakure 9 Jan beat to death suspected thief on Musugi hill (Kanyosha commune, Bujumbura Rural province). Macabre discoveries in Cibitoke province and beyond in Makamba and Rumonge provinces (south west) continued: locals of Makamba’s Mabanda commune 5 Jan found the body of unidentified young man, while local administration ordered his burial before identification. Tensions late-Dec-early Jan rose as DR Congo (DRC)-based Burundian rebel group RED-Tabara along with local Mai Mai militia 2, 6 Jan clashed with Burundian armed forces and Imbonerakure in DRC’s South Kivu province; Burundian govt around 7 Jan denied army presence in DRC while media reports alleged dozens of soldiers injured and some killed during incidents. Meanwhile, Rwanda and Burundi pursued reconciliation efforts. Rwandan president 10 Jan received Burundian delegation led by Foreign Minister Ezekiel Nigibira to strengthen bilateral relations and prepare ground for meeting between two presidents. Authorities 12 Jan also received Ugandan defence minister to discuss regional security and 16 Jan signed Memorandum of Understanding for $900mn deal on railway construction with Tanzania.
Amid ongoing accusations against national intelligence and ruling party youth wing of serious human rights abuses, authorities continued to reject UN scrutiny. Members of leading opposition party National Freedom Congress (CNL) suffered persecution throughout month. In separate operations, security forces 1-2 Dec arrested CNL members Olivier Nkurunziza, Manassé Uwimana, Salomon Nduwayo, Manassé Nduwayo and Venant Nahabonimana, all in Ngozi province. CNL party leader Agathon Rwasa 4 Dec decried ongoing arbitary arrests, notably in Ngozi, and impunity of perpetrators. Insecurity persisted in other provinces, amid ongoing allegations of serious abuses at hands of security forces and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure, including unlawful killings and torture. Notably, suspected Imbonerakure 6 Dec killed Jean Marie Nsabimana in Bubanza province for unknown reasons; after farmers 10 Dec found two unidentified mutilated corpses in Buganda commune, Cibitoke province, local Imbonerakure chased away witnesses and hastily buried bodies; Augustin Matata, who had been arrested in Nov by intelligence officers, 15 Dec died of wounds in hospital in capital Bujumbura, while authorities 17 Dec arrested alleged culprit, intelligence officer Gérard Ndayisenga. Imbonerakure 16 Dec arrested CNL member Innocent Barutwanayo in Matongo commune, Kayanza province; Barutwanayo reportedly died following torture 19 Dec. Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro 9 Dec told diplomats that country would not allow as yet unnamed holder of recently created post of UN Human Rights rapporteur on Burundi into country. Fire 7 Dec broke out at overcrowded prison in capital Gitega killing 38, injuring 69.
Security forces clashed with unidentified gunmen in Kibira forest; forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests of political opponents continued. Security forces 5 Nov clashed with unidentified armed men in Kibira forest reserve, killing two and arresting one; renewed exchange of fire next day left one soldier dead. Army 10 Nov killed three alleged rebels and arrested another in same forest, while local official and police officer injured during operation. Court 11 Nov sentenced suspect of 5 Nov attacks to life imprisonment on charges of “undermining state security”. Arbitrary arrests of opponents continued. Notably, presumed security forces and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 1 Nov detained member of opposition National Freedom Congress (CNL) Abdoul Ndayishimiye in Cibitoke province; intelligence officers 16 Nov arrested Jean Baptiste Mpawenayo, relative of CNL leader Agathon Rwasa, in Bujumbura area. Suspected Imbonerakure 8 Nov also kidnapped and later killed CNL member Claude Nibigira in Buterere area, Bujumbura Mairie province. Locals in Buganda and Rugombo communes, Cibitoke province, early Nov found two bodies bearing signs of torture. Unidentified assailants 27 Nov gunned down businessman and opposition party member Christophe Nimbabazi in Zambian capital Lusaka; attack raised concerns among exiled political opponents. U.S. President Biden 18 Nov removed sanctions on eight senior military and security officials, including PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, citing reduced violence and return to political normality since 2020 elections; move follows 18 Oct EU decision to renew for another year sanctions on three Burundian govt officials and one former general, initially imposed in Oct 2015 for their role in violence and political obstruction in April-May 2015.
Sporadic violence continued, notably in centre, UN decided to appoint special rapporteur on human rights, and Kinshasa arrested dozens of suspected Burundian rebels. Unidentified assailants 10 Oct killed two military in exchange of fire in Murumvya province. Inhabitants of Cibitoke province 14-17 Oct discovered around a dozen mutilated bodies in or near Rusizi river; in response, President Ndayishimiye 18 Oct sent delegation to area to discuss security situation with provincial governor. Govt 20 Oct handed over 11 suspected members of Rwandan dissident group National Liberation Front (FLN) to Kigali; Rwandan intelligence chief Gen Vincent Nyakarundi welcomed move, but said hundreds more insurgents present in Burundi’s Kibira forest. UN Human Rights Council 8 Oct voted to appoint special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, following work of UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (2016-2021) whose final report was released in Sept. DR Congo authorities 5 Oct arrested over 30 alleged Burundian rebels in South Kivu province and 10 Oct claimed to have killed same day two Burundian members of RED-Tabara armed group; RED-Tabara 11 Oct denied claim.
Series of grenade explosions killed several people and wounded scores. Armed group RED-Tabara overnight 18-19 Sept launched mortar attacks on Bujumbura airport, from where President Ndayishimiye was due to fly next day, leaving no casualties; RED-Tabara next day claimed to have killed members of armed forces in ensuing clashes in Rukoko forest. Unidentified assailants 19-20 Sept launched at least four grenade attacks in capital Gitega and economic capital Bujumbura, killing at least five and injuring over a hundred; govt 21 Sept blamed “unidentified terrorists”, and RED-Tabara same day denied involvement. Authorities 22 Sept issued international arrest warrant against exiled opposition leader Alexis Sinduhije on suspicions of leading RED-Tabara. Grenade attack 28 Sept killed at least four in Vugizo village, Bujumbura Rural province. Meanwhile, military, police and ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure forces deployed 11 Sept in Buganda commune, Citiboke province, near border with DR Congo (DRC), amid alleged imminent risk of attack by DRC-based Burundian rebels. Military 25 Sept reportedly detained 13 Kinyarwanda-speaking individuals in Citiboke province on suspicion of belonging to Rwandan rebel group. Authorities same day arrested 34 youths in Rutegama commune, Muramvya province over suspicion of seeking to join armed groups. UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (CoI) 16 Sept found Ndayishimiye, one year into presidency, has failed to undertake structural reforms to improve human rights record and rule of law. Following Gitega’s late June-early July suspension of foreign mining operations pending renegotiation of contracts with international companies, Council of Ministers 8 Sept held first discussion on reforming national Mining Code; established all minerals belong to Burundi and state must be involved at every stage of exploitation process.
Authorities stepped up repression of political opponents amid tensions within ruling party over suspension of foreign mining operations. In south, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 1 Aug seized two members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Muhuta commune, Rumonge province. In Rutana province, Imbonerakure 11 Aug reportedly attacked CNL party representative Pierre Ndayisaba and his brother in Giharo commune; next day over 50 Imbonerakure brought Ndayisaba to police station; Ndayisaba later transferred to Rutana prison. Police 13 Aug arrested three CNL members in Kayogoro commune, Makamba province, and seized funds they were collecting for construction of party headquarters, before releasing them 16 Aug without returning funds. In north east, Imbonerakure 5 Aug reportedly vandalised CNL office in Ruhororo commune, Ngozi province; authorities same day detained two CNL members in Gitobe commune, Kirundo province, releasing them 14 Aug. In north west, residents in Cibitoke province’s Bukinanyana commune 13 Aug reported Imbonerakure night patrols amid concerns among local CNL members that ruling party is inciting youth wing to step up attacks against them; CNL activist also reportedly abducted 15-16 Aug by National Intelligence Services head, in Rugombo commune. In centre, intelligence officials 9 Aug detained three CNL members in Mwaro province’s Kayokwe commune, before releasing them 10 and 13 Aug. In Karusi province, Imbonerakure 28 Aug reportedly seized six CNL members in Shombo commune. Security forces 16 Aug arrested seven individuals, including one Rwandan, for allegedly collaborating with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group in Mabayi commune, Citiboke province. Meanwhile, risk of instability within CNDD-FDD persisted over late June-early July suspension of all foreign mining operations pending ongoing renegotiation of mining contracts with state.
Govt continued to mend ties with neighbours; clampdown on opposition persisted. Following arrest of at least six members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) for alleged role in June deadly ambush in Muramvya province, CNL 3 July criticised “disguised way to harass [opposition] and thereby further lock down political space”. CNL 13 July said its leader in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura Rural province, had gone missing 9 July after boarding army vehicle, called for investigation and decried “arbitrary arrests” of party members. Meanwhile, govt officially engaged in regional security cooperation, notably hosting meeting of heads of intelligence and security from DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda 5-6 July; officials adopted two-year plan of action for Contact Group set to implement non-military measures to complement military efforts against armed actors in region from early Aug. During President Ndayishimiye’s visit to neighbouring DRC, Gitega and Kinshasa 13 July announced bilateral cooperation against armed groups in eastern DRC; agreement likely to lead to joint operations against Burundian armed groups in South Kivu province. Amid rapprochement with Rwanda, Rwanda’s PM Edouard Ngirente 1 July attended Burundi’s independence celebration; Gitega 4 July however did not attend Rwanda’s Liberation Day festivities, which marks end of genocide against ethnic Tutsis. Burundian FM Albert Shingiro 12 July said Kigali’s refusal to hand over those allegedly involved in 2015 failed coup against former President Nkurunziza remains final obstacle in rapprochement; Ndayishimiye 17 July expressed hope that solution is close. Kigali 30 July handed over to Gitega 19 RED-Tabara rebels captured in late 2020.
Authorities clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels near Rwandan border and unidentified assailants staged deadly ambush in centre. In Cibitoke province’s Mabayi commune, near Rwandan border, Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels 5 June ambushed armed forces, injuring four; armed forces next day killed eight rebels and wounded several others; authorities 11 June arrested 14 people, including two local chiefs and three members of ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure for allegedly collaborating with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group. In Muramvya province’s Rutegama commune in country’s centre, unidentified armed men 26 June reportedly killed at least 15 people and wounded nine in ambush on two vehicles. In Rumonge province, unidentified assailants 2, 7 and 28 June vandalised main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) offices in Muhuta commune; CNL accused ruling party CNDD-FDD. Ntahangwa court of appeal late June announced 32-year prison sentence for human rights activist Germain Rukuki reduced to one-year imprisonment; Rukuki had been detained since 2018. Meanwhile, govt 16 June lifted sanctions on Ikiriho website and BBC media outlet, respectively shut since Oct 2018 and March 2019; several media outlets however remain suspended including Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Télé Renaissance, Inzamba and Voice of America. Head of EU delegation to Burundi 21 June met President Ndayishimiye in economic capital Bujumbura ahead of 24 June round of talks with govt, announced EU’s intent to start process of aid resumption after govt submitted satisfactory roadmap of reforms; EU had suspended direct financial aid to govt in 2016 over violations of Cotonou Agreement.
Series of grenade attacks killed at least two and wounded scores; meanwhile, AU and UN missions downscaled in-country monitoring presence. Unidentified assailants launched five grenade attacks against bus stations and public markets during rush hour in capital Bujumbura 25 May and in Muramvya city 27 May, leaving at least two dead and at least 57 injured; police killed one attacker and arrested five suspects. Govt called violence “terrorism”; motives behind attacks still unclear. In Muramvya province, unidentified armed men 9 May killed at least eight and injured five; police by next day had arrested 32 individuals, including 25 former military officers. Ntahangwa High Court 7 May sentenced former opposition MP Fabien Banciryanino to one-year imprisonment for “rebellion and attack on the internal security of the state” after criticising former President Nkurunziza’s “Supreme Guide of Patriotism”; sentence lighter than requested by prosecution. AU Peace and Security Council 7 May announced decision to shut down Human Rights Observers and Military Experts Mission in Burundi by 31 May, and to remove country from agenda citing “significant progress” in political and security situation. UN Sec-Gen Special Envoy’s Office also due to close on 31 May. In neighbouring DR Congo’s South Kivu province ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 19 May clashed with Maï-Maï militiamen aligned with Burundian armed group RED-Tabara in Uvira territory. Rwandan govt 24 May claimed to have killed two National Liberation Front (FLN) rebels crossing the border from Burundi; Gitega denied presence of armed groups hostile to Rwanda on Burundian soil.
Govt continued diplomatic offensive as part of effort to alleviate country’s isolation; clampdown on opposition and civil society persisted. Authorities 2 April lifted June 2019 ban on independent NGO PARCEM in apparent move to respond to EU’s demands for improvements in human rights and media freedom. Govt and EU 9 April held second round of negotiations on normalising relations, including lifting EU sanctions and resuming direct financial support; EU invited Burundian FM Albert Shingiro for European tour, which started 26 April. Amid rapprochement with Rwanda, govt 2 April welcomed Kigali’s late March decision to suspend three Burundian radio stations, which had been operating from Kigali since 2015 political crisis in Burundi, said move showed “dialogue [with country] was not in vain”. AU Peace and Security Council 27 April met to discuss possible shutdown of Human Rights Observers and Military Experts Mission in Burundi; decision expected early May. Meanwhile, authorities continued to harass opposition and civil society. In Rumonge province, authorities 11 April arrested opposition party Union for National Progress youth leader over accusations of hosting unauthorised gathering and 14 April arrested civilian for allegedly cooperating with rebel group. Authorities 13 April decried as biased U.S. State Dept’s annual report on human rights, published late March, which recorded at least 205 extrajudicial killings in Burundi in 2020 and highlighted “widespread impunity for govt and ruling party officials and for their supporters and proxies”. Main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) next day called on govt to release 15 CNL members who have been imprisoned for almost a year on accusations of threatening security around May 2020 general elections. Former Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Cyrille Ndayirukiye 24 April died in Gitega prison, where he was serving life sentence for allegedly playing central role in 2015 coup attempt. Authorities 26 April released first 3,000 of over 5,000 detainees who were granted presidential amnesty in March in bid to alleviate prison overcrowding.
Ruling party continued to stifle opposition and armed forces launched offensives on Hutu rebels at border with Rwanda. In Karusi province’s Buhiga and Gitaramuka communes, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 14 March assaulted four members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom. In effort to reduce prison overcrowding, President Ndayishimiye 5 March issued presidential decree granting amnesty to over 5,000 prisoners, but left out many political prisoners detained over accusations of “participating in armed gangs” or “endangering security of the state”. NGO Human Rights Watch 8 March called on govt to drop charges and release eight former Burundian refugees – whom Tanzania forcibly returned in July 2020 – on trial for allegedly “attacking the integrity of the national territory and participating in armed gangs”; two additional refugees reported missing 6-7 March. In address to UN Human Rights Council, UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi 11 March acknowledged some steps taken by authorities to improve human rights record but concluded that current situation “too complex and uncertain to be referred to as genuine improvement”; Burundian representative decried briefing as “politically motivated”. Meanwhile, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of 2000 Arusha peace accords and tasked with investigating past violence, 19 March presented results of its findings in Bururi province to parliament; results sparked mixed reactions as some accused Commission of focusing on killings of Hutu ethnic group members only. Amid recent diplomatic rapprochement with Rwanda, Burundian armed forces late Feb-1 March launched offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, remnant of Rwandan Hutu militia that killed much of the Tutsi minority and many moderate Hutu during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide; clashes in Mabayi commune, Cibitoke province left at least two rebels dead and 15 soldiers injured. Also in Mabayi commune, Burundian authorities 18 March arrested two civilians suspected of complicity with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group.
Authorities continued crackdown on opposition, and Supreme Court convicted 34 individuals of involvement in 2015 coup attempt against former President Nkurunziza. In Rumonge province, police 31 Jan-2 Feb arrested five civilians suspected of complicity with armed groups. In Bujumbura Rural province’s Kanyosha commune, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 14 Feb assaulted four members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) and 28 Feb clashed with CNL party meeting attendees, leaving 12 injured on both sides. In Cibitoke province, National Intelligence Services mid-Feb arrested seven civilians for allegedly cooperating with Kinyarwanda speakers in illegal gold trade; armed forces late Feb killed at least two and captured 16 Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group members in Mabayi commune. CNL leader Agathon Rwasa 14 Feb denounced judicial harassment of opposition, said over 140 CNL members remain behind bars despite having served their sentence or been acquitted. Meanwhile, in decision released 2 Feb but dating back to 23 June 2020, Supreme Court convicted in absentia 34 individuals to life imprisonment for involvement in failed coup against former President Nkurunziza in 2015; those convicted include former VP Bernard Busokoza, former president of opposition party Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) Jean Minani, and opposition figure Alexis Sinduhije, whom authorities accuse of leading rebel group RED-Tabara. After President Ndayishimiye late Jan asked National Council of Communication (CNC) to reopen dialogue with media outlets banned in 2015, CNC 1 Feb held follow-up meeting with several of them; gathering however excluded media in exile. Director of Burundian Union of Journalists same day welcomed “step in the right direction”.EU 2 Feb formally restarted dialogue with Burundi, which was interrupted in 2016; in letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, 43 EU parliamentarians 5 Feb opposed resumption of dialogue and cooperation, citing continued human rights violations by Burundian authorities, including arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances.