Burundi : Agathon Rwasa requests authorization to organize regional assemblies and an ordinary congress

Burundi : Agathon Rwasa requests authorization to organize regional assemblies and an ordinary congress

The disputed chairperson of the CNL party (National Congress for Freedom) says he is concerned about the holding of these activities which, perhaps, will lead to an end to the problems that his party is currently experiencing. In a lively press conference this Thursday at his home in the commercial city of Bujumbura (because he cannot have permanent service), Agathon Rwasa asked the Minister of the Interior to allow this political party to “hold a ordinary congress and other assemblies”. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The former Hutu rebel leader regretted that “the ministry forbade us to organize a retreat meeting which was to be held on the 20th of this month of August and ordered the party to postpone this activity for a later date”.

During this press conference, Agathon Rwasa announced the holding of a CNL congress very soon. He requested facilitation from the ministry in charge of internal affairs “for such events that are so important for the party”.

For him, a retreat for all party officials will surely allow them to settle the differences that exist within the main opposition political party in Burundi.

Dismissal as party leader

For the first time, he spoke about the case of the ten members of the political bureau who recently declared his dismissal and replaced him with Marie Immaculée Ntacobakimvuna.

“We deplore the attitude of the ten dissidents who, instead of properly reading the signs of the times, continue to behave irresponsibly by carrying out activities that degrade them and that do not advance the CNL party in any way”, lamented the CNL leader, challenged.

Mr. Rwasa asked the CNL members to “stay united and prepare for the activities to come”.

Minister Martin Niteretse in charge of the management of political parties in the small East African nation has not yet reacted to these requests.

Measure decried

At the beginning of June this year, Mr. Niteretse suspended all the activities of the main opposition party in Burundi, explaining that he wanted “to avoid probable confrontations between members of the CNL”, a political party which has been going through an internal crisis for several months.

Agathon Rwasa has always spoken of an “illegal and unilateral politically motivated decision to favor the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD” for which the minister is campaigning.

“To suspend the activities of a political party, this party must be responsible for an offense under the national law”, retorted Mr. Rwasa. This is not the case for the CNL, according to the former Hutu rebel leader.

For the moment, only meetings organized to resolve tensions within the CNL are authorized.

The CNL is the main opposition political party in the small East African nation. Its now disputed leader, Agathon Rwasa, who is a former rebel leader of the FNL (National Liberation Forces) which later became a political party before being taken over by some of its members with the complicity of the ruling party, is a historical opponent.

Several reports by Burundian and international human rights organizations have often denounced the abuses suffered by its activists, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, kidnappings, torture and illegal imprisonment.

A CNDD-FDD practice?

“Often, political parties go through internal management crises from time to time and that is normal. But what is not normal is that the government takes advantage of it to recover a faction and thus weaken the whole party”, said Carina Tertsakian, associate researcher at the Initiative for Human Rights in Burundi (IDHB). She speaks of political interference which has characterized several other ministers in charge of the management of political parties in the past.

“In this sense, the interference of the Minister of the Interior in the internal affairs of the CNL is reminiscent of the interventions of his predecessors which ended up dividing or even destroying some of the opposition parties in previous years : the FNL in the time as well as the Uprona, UPD and other parties have suffered this fate on several occasions. It is the phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘Nyakurisation’ with a faction close to the ruling party which is recognized by the government, and another faction that is declared illegal or unrecognized. So given the bias of the Minister of the Interior towards some members of the CNL leadership, it is very likely that we are witnessing a similar scenario in the near future”, she said.

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