The unrest and political violences that have during the electoral period in Burundi has transformed into a more complex situation characterized by barbaric killings and rumors of a fresh rebellion.
Only in September, bodies of at least 40 people have been found in swamps of Rukoko and Rusizi, 20 km north-west from Bujumbura. Those who have perpetrated such crimes haven’t yet been clearly identified; police says armed bandits are responsible of such attacks while local residents in Rukoko and Gihanga in Bubanza province confirmed the existence of a well-organised group with new uniform and guns operating in this area close to the border with DR Congo.
The political context remains tense in Burundi. After the May 24 local polls which saw a large victory for the ruling party, CNDD-FDD, opposition parties contested the results and formed a coalition, Alliance for Democratic Change. Former rebel and opposition leader Agathon Rwasa who has just laid down arms and transformed his movement into a legal political party fled the country. Other opposition leaders, fearing for their safety also have joined him in exile. Meanwhile, according to human rights groups, there have been several arrests of opposition supporters and some are reported missing or killed. Some civil society activists and journalists have also been intimidated. And despite claims of success of disarmament process, weapons are still largely distributed in urban and rural areas.
Now, the population fears an escalation of violence and generalised insecurity and asks the government to take its responsibility to ensure safety and peace for all. Ordinary citizens have expressed their strong wish for peace and stability after a destructive 12 year long war which killed over 300,000 people.
Looking at the current context which opposes mainly former rebel groups, it’s clear that only unity and determined refusal of manipulation at the grassroots level can save the country from another war. When talking to former refugees in Eastern Burundi earlier this year and to youths in Bujumbura late in August, I was told the same message: “we won’t accept manipulation any more, we have learnt enough during the last 10 years!”
For the moment, strategies of the government are still unknown; recently people have been calling for dialogue expressed by opposition and international community but it’s uncertain rather the government of Nkurunziza responds favourably to the demand given its massive victory in recent polls.