The dismissal of the prime minister, a few days ago, would have been due to his implication in a coup against President Ndayishimiye. The new prime minister, Gervais Ndirakobuca, is a disturbing figure
September 14, 2022
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A coup d’état was thwarted in Burundi last week. President Evariste Ndayishimiye believed that Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni was the mastermind of the attempted coup and therefore dismissed him. Replacing him with Gervais Ndirakobuca who, among the first acts, has appointed a new minister of the interior and security, Martin Niteretse.
With this move, the president consolidated his power. Bunyoni had also served as police chief and security minister in the Nkurunziza government, in power for three consecutive terms and died in June 2020. Believed to be among the most influential politicians, he had amassed considerable wealth as the head of a diverse business network that it allowed him to know perfectly the state of the economy in the country.
Together with Bunyoni, Ndayishimiye liquidated at least 54 provincial officials, dissatisfied with how many government officials, convinced they were untouchable, were doing their job. Furthermore, last June, the president fired 35 magistrates accused of corruption because they extorted money from the people, especially the less well-off, postponing sentences indefinitely.
Concerns have been circulating in government circles for months following the president’s anti-corruption campaign. Burundi has suffered for months from shortages of fuel, cement, sugar and other products, and Ndayishimiye had publicly criticized some government officials for being guilty of such shortages in order to serve their own interests. Among other things, the president has issued a ban on all deposed officers from leaving the country.
Fears of the East African CommunityCopyAMP code.
The government reshuffle illustrates the precariousness of the country’s political situation, marred by violence since 2015. A fragile country in many respects.
The precarious economic conditions complicate efforts to overcome the deleterious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, Burundi was politically re-emerging from isolation. The international community, in fact, in exchange for the promise of serious reforms and the relaxation of repressive methods, had begun to remove the sanctions against key figures of the regime.
It will not be easy for Ndayishimiye to ensure that Burundi will respect the rules of the rule of law without slipping back into the systematic repression of dissent. The concentration of power in the hands of very rigid political figures has spread a lasting sense of insecurity among the population. One of these figures is precisely Gervais Ndirakobuca, who in 1993, then leader of a rebel group, took part in the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, the first democratically elected president; after which he was repeatedly placed at the head of the police and secret services. This curriculum can affect relationships with foreign partners.
A long-time, somewhat hesitant member of the East African Community (EAC), Burundi had improved its reputation with EAC’s trading partners over the past two years. For example, by signing infrastructure agreements under which Bujumbura accepted an extension of the railway line that would reach the Burundian capital from Tanzania. An operation that could favor the possibility of extending the line to the eastern area of the DR Congo, which has also recently entered the EAC. Furthermore, Burundi, which has a rather large army, could make a very valuable contribution to the creation of a regional force that intervenes to pacify the eastern area of the DR Congo.
For these economic and political reasons, the EAC partners view with concern the risk of a phase of instability in the country.