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World must act to avoid Burundi catastrophe: exiled journalist

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza. Image source defenceweb

The international community should prepare for a possible military intervention in Burundi, one of the country’s top journalists said.

“We are facing a catastrophic situation,” Bob Rugurika, head of African Public Radio (RPA), Burundi’s most popular private radio station which was shut down by the state in May, told AFP in an interview in Geneva this week.

“It is a catastrophe created and planned by the presidential camp,” he said, insisting that “the international community should prepare for a military intervention … to at least reduce the damage.”

Burundi has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third five-year term in office – a move critics have branded unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war in 2006.

At least 70 people have been killed in opposition protests that have been brutally suppressed, according to Aprodeh, a leading Burundian human rights group.

Rugurika’s comments came as the country’s ruling party announced Tuesday it was boycotting the restart of UN-led talks aimed at brokering peace after weeks of violence.

“The international community can see the danger approaching,” Rugurika said in Geneva, where he met with UN representatives.

“If tomorrow catastrophe happens in Burundi, if we see violence on a large scale, and multiple human lives are lost, the international community will not have an excuse,” he said.

Rugurika welcomed an threat by EU foreign ministers to sanction individuals responsible for the violence.

But sanctions would not be enough, he said, accusing Nkurunziza’s administration of being prepared to “bathe the country in fire and blood” to protect themselves and stay in power.

– Elections ‘a farce’ –

Parliamentary elections are planned for June 29, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.

Burundi has rejected the African Union’s call to delay the polls further, but has agreed to allow in AU military observers and human rights experts ahead of the elections, under certain conditions.

“These elections will be a farce,” said Rugurika, who fled Burundi last month after his radio station was used by a former intelligence chief to announce a coup attempt that ultimately failed.

Burundi’s main independent radio stations were all attacked by pro-government forces and taken off air during the failed coup and have not been permitted to reopen.

Rugurika, who spent a month in jail at the beginning of the year after implicating intelligence officials in the murders of three Italian nuns, accused the government of using the coup attempt as an excuse to destroy the country’s independent media.

“It was a premeditated act,” he said.

More than 20 other journalists from RPA have gone into exile, Rugurika said.

“We are continuing the fight, and we will return to Burundi, no matter how long it takes,” he vowed.

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2 Comments
  • Ojiyovwi

    I can tell you now that you must fight your battles if you
    think that you’re the only Burundian and all else are not worthy. If a
    babay does not want the mother to have her sleep the baby has to keep
    awake also. You cannot throw mud at your enemy with clean hands. You
    cannot spit into the air without some blowing back at you. You invite
    the so-called world at your peril. Besides look at the refugees in
    Europe
    caused by EU and US interventions. These were the same Europeans who
    hailed the ‘ARAB SPRING’, now crying crucify the refugees, there is no
    room for them here in Europe whilst busy stealing from the ‘LIBERATED
    PEOPLE’. These humanitarian invaders, expelled by the ‘LIBERATED PEOPLE’
    cannot go to the US, too far and the ocean is not swimmable. Therefore
    Europeans of any relevance cannot continue making the same mistakes. The
    arms and subsequent reconstruction contracts are not worth the social
    strife that is drowning Greece at al.

  • Ojiyovwi

    I can tell you now that you must fight your battles if you
    think that you’re the only Burundian and all else are not worthy. If a
    babay does not want the mother to have her sleep the baby has to keep
    awake also. You cannot throw mud at your enemy with clean hands. You
    cannot spit into the air without some blowing back at you. You invite
    the so-called world at your peril. Besides look at the refugees in
    Europe
    caused by EU and US interventions. These were the same Europeans who
    hailed the ‘ARAB SPRING’, now crying crucify the refugees, there is no
    room for them here in Europe whilst busy stealing from the ‘LIBERATED
    PEOPLE’. These humanitarian invaders, expelled by the ‘LIBERATED PEOPLE’
    cannot go to the US, too far and the ocean is not swimmable. Therefore
    Europeans of any relevance cannot continue making the same mistakes. The
    arms and subsequent reconstruction contracts are not worth the social
    strife that is drowning Greece at al. Therfore, go home and be careful not to invite the WORLD, aka EU and the US into your civil differences and difficulties. You may similarly regret the day you failed to solve your problems and invited outside experts to come to your help. Before you know it you’ll end up as a failed state with everyone fleeing the resulting chaos. Is this what you want? If not, how do you hope to aviod being yet another incompetent African. Remeber, the Egyptians have shown that being a journalist does not confer infinite wisdom.

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