The Burundi Human Rights Initiative
Révérien Ndikuriyo, Secretary General of the CNDD-FDD (left), and President Évariste Ndayishimiye (right) talk at the ruling party congress in Gitega, 22 January 2023. ©2023 Private
Révérien Ndikuriyo, Secretary General of the CNDD-FDD (left), and President Évariste Ndayishimiye (right) talk at the ruling party congress in Gitega, . © Private

An uneasy alliance

Who holds the power in Burundi?

brought dramatic political changes to Burundi. President Évariste Ndayishimiye did what was unthinkable: remove the once powerful Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni.

The Burundi Human Rights Initiative’s new report, “An uneasy alliance: who holds the power in Burundi?”, analyses the relationship between influential figures in the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, and their attempts to consolidate power. It documents the training in “patriotism” of thousands of members of the CNDD-FDD youth league, the Imbonerakure, and the intimidation and ill-treatment of members of opposition parties.

Bunyoni’s removal may have realigned the balance of power in favour of Ndayishimiye, but this new dynamic could be temporary. Ndayishimiye may try to clip the wings of Révérien Ndikuriyo, the secretary general of the CNDD-FDD, who has implicitly challenged him. Given Ndikuriyo’s popularity among Imbonerakure, such a move could lead to further turmoil in .

Floriane Irangabiye. ©2023 Private
Floriane Irangabiye. © Private

Floriane Irangabiye

In , Burundian journalist Floriane Irangabiye was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “endangering the integrity of the national territory”. The trial centred on her participation in an online discussion with well-known government critics that was broadcast on Radio Igicaniro. Irangabiye had sharply criticised the Burundian government during the broadcast and encouraged Burundians to oppose the government, but did not explicitly call for the use of violence.

The Burundi Human Rights Initiative’s article describes Irangabiye’s unfair trial, including the lack of credible evidence to justify her conviction and the judges’ bias in favour of the prosecution.

The Burundian authorities should release Irangabiye and guarantee that her appeal conforms to fair trial standards, without political interference.

Dr Christophe Sahabo. ©2022 Private
Dr Christophe Sahabo. © Private

The Kira Hospital saga

Dr Christophe Sahabo, director of Kira Hospital, has been detained for over six months, awaiting trial for alleged economic crimes. His illegal detention by the National Intelligence Service for six weeks and his removal from his post appear to have been engineered by senior state officials with a view to gaining control of the hospital’s assets. Intelligence agents also arrested his brother and his lawyer, while others involved in the case received anonymous threats.

An analysis by the Burundi Human Rights Initiative describes the blatant disregard for due process throughout these events as well as the involvement of senior state officials. The case presents a test for President Évariste Ndayishimiye: will he insist that the law is followed or will he protect the powerful officials involved by doing nothing?