Is Nkurunziza the new Mugabe? Torture alleged as CNDD-FDD rounds up political opponents after alleged "coup attempt"
Senior figures from both main opposition parties (Hutu and Tutsi), a number of smaller parties, and a human rights organisation have been arrested or had arrest warrants issued in their name. Figures so far detained include Alphonse Kadege of the Tutsi-dominated Uprona party, Alain Mugabarabona of the hardline-Hutu FNL-Icanzo (a splinter group from Palipehutu-FNL), Deo Niyonzima, leader of a small Tutsi faction, and Poppon Mudugu of the human rights campaign organisation Action Contre Genocide. Arrest warrants have also been issued for a number of leaders of the Hutu-dominated Frodebu party. A number of those detained have been tortured, according to their lawyer.
Independent observers are sceptical about the alleged coup plot, and fear that it may simply be a pretext to extend further CNDD-FDD's dominance of the political scene. Sceptics also question the credibility of the alleged alliance between such diametrically opposed groups as A C Genocide and FNL-Icanzo.
Uprona and Frodebu have issued statements claiming that the arrests are politically-motivated. Frodebu has urged the international community to follow the situation closely.
From The Mail and Guardian (SA)
Burundi has arrested an eighth person in a suspected plot to overthrow the Central African nation's government in a bloody coup, an intelligence source said on Thursday.
The authorities say they have evidence that former high-ranking politicians and a dissident rebel leader -- all arrested this week -- planned to kill President Pierre Nkurunziza in June with military support.
"Poppon Mudugu has been arrested. He is also wanted for being implicated in this attempt to destabilise government institutions," the source said, referring to an ethnic Tutsi activist arrested on Thursday.
Earlier this week, security services arrested seven people including former vice-president Alphonse Marie Kadege, Deo Niyonzima, the leader of a small ethnic Tutsi party, an army colonel and an ex-leader of a rebel faction.
A prisoner rights organisation known as APRODH on Thursday condemned the detainees' treatment as "inhuman", and a lawyer for Kadege and Niyonzima said they had been tortured.
"I have written to the heads of the intelligence services so that my clients can be allowed to be treated. I have information that my clients are being tortured," lawyer Isidor Rufyikiri told local radio Bonesha.
"I myself have received threats saying I will suffer the same fate if I do not abandon this matter."
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Burundi is tasting peace for the first time in more than a decade after a civil war killed more than 300 000 people.
The country's new-found peace is generally seen as an African success story, but rights watchdogs have warned its security services still commit abuses.
President Nkurunziza, an ethnic Hutu, first said five months ago that three unnamed men were plotting a coup against him. -- Reuters
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa