By Gilbert Niyonkuru
As the head of a country accused of committing crimes against humanity in the shadow of the ICC, the Burundian president has pulled out of the draws of justice a file concerning the assassination of the president Melchior Ndadaye (Hutu) assassinated in October 1993. Arrest warrants rained down against several personalities. For Leonidas Hatungimana, a former comrade in arms of the Burundian president, and also his former spokesperson, it is a well thought out strategy to diversify and broaden the number of personalities accused of crimes with the aim of diversion.
Leonidas Hatungimana is a man who knows Pierre Nkurunziza well, his former brother in arms. They were together in the rebellion led by the CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy).
In 2005, the CNDD-FDD, which became a political party, won the elections and installed Pierre Nkurunziza, a former sports teacher, as head of the country. Hatungimana is a close friend of Pierre Nkurunziza, he belongs to the circle of former comrades who have climbed the ladder. He become the spokesman for the president, under the rank of colonel.
In April-May 2015, demonstrations by civil society and the opposition broke out to challenge the third term of President Nkurunziza. The repression was fierce. In the presidential party, a plot was be born. A coup led by former comrades of the rebellion will fail. This time to subdue the slingers a manhunt begins. Leonidas Hatungimana, and other “rebels” opposed to Nkurunziza’s third unconstitutional and illegal mandate, will be on the road to exile.
On the Ndadaye folder …
Former spokesman President Nkurunziza said he is not surprised by this opening of the case of the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye. “Nkurunziza is surfing on this issue for political interests and calculations , ” he says before recalling: ” We must not forget that the Arusha Peace Agreement signed in Arusha under the aegis of Nelson Mandela provided for the Establishment by the United Nations Security Council of an international judicial commission of inquiry into genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Burundi since 1962, in short, from independence until the signing of the Arusha Agreement in 2000. “
According to the “fathers” of the Arusha Peace Agreement, this commission was supposed to investigate and establish the facts covering this period, but also to qualify them, to establish the responsibilities. She was then to submit the report to the United Nations. If it is proven that there has been genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, the government of Burundi should request the establishment by the UN Security Council of an International Criminal Court charged with judging and punishing the guilty. None of these mechanisms have been put in place.
The former colonel, who is now a refugee in Europe, recalls that a Truth Reconciliation Commission (CVR) was also planned, which would have the mission of investigating, clarifying the history, but also of arbitrating and finding the mechanisms of to reconcile the Burundian people. ” There was even the likelihood that parliament would pass a law establishing an amnesty … “.
He believes that Pierre Nkurunziza reopens this file for purely electoral purposes.
For a short story, after the assassination of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye and several close associates there were two camps, all guilty of serious crimes. On the one hand, members of the security forces, especially the army qualified at the time of “Tutsi ethnic mono”, but also young Tutsis operating in sorts of gangs called “without failures” and other “without defeats” .
On the other hand, Hutu who are rushed and avenged on Tutsi, especially inside where there have been many carnage.
According to Hatungimana, ” Nkurunziza wants to give a warning to anyone who intends to oppose his candidacy in 2020. Any opponent will be hunted by justice in the context of this case, conveniently reopened today. “
The domino effect …
For Hatungimana, it is a well thought out strategy to create the diversion. ” He wants the current crimes and his illegitimacy in power to be forgotten. Do not forget also that President Nkurunziza is singled out in the current report of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, especially in the role he may have played in crimes against humanity committed in Burundi since 2015. “
He explains his analysis: the fact that Nkurunziza accuses well-known personalities, such as Pierre Buyoya (the former president now highly respected at the level of the international community and the African Union) is not fortuitous. “This is a strategy that also targets Hutu guilty of crimes after the assassination of President Ndadaye in October 1993” .
Better, through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) that is fully acquired, and to which he asked to go back since the colonial period to demonstrate the “bad role” played by some countries in the crimes committed in Burundi.
It makes the world and that’s fine. According to Mr. Hatungimana, Nkurunziza’s idea is to broaden and diversify the personalities guilty of crimes and, as a result, to release the pressure and the gaze focused on him. “His hope is that the record of the International Criminal Court is suspended . “
Asked about the international arrest warrants issued by Bujumbura, he is skeptical. ” When I read the communiqué of the AU, I have the impression that it became aware of this desire of Pierre Nkurunziza to use the Ndadaye file. It is a sign that these mandates will not be executed by the international community and the AU countries . But he nuances all the same, because: ” The AU does not have a total control over all the relations between NKURUNZIZA and certain heads of States, between Burundi and some countries . “
Since his exile, the man who fought against Pierre Nkurunziza, until he lost his arm on the battlefield, of course wishes justice to be done and that the culprits in the Ndadaye case and all the other crimes answer for their acts. Leonidas Hatungimana wants justice, but not selective justice. ” Today there are crimes, evidence exists, visible, but remains unpunished “.
As a reminder, the government of Burundi is in the sights of the ICC.
Léonidas HATUNGIMANA was born in 1971 in the province of Cankuzo. After studying at the minor seminary of Mugera, he began his university studies but the crisis of 1993 broke out. He took the road to exile and joined in 1995 the rebellion of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy, FDD. He normally climbs the ladder to the rank of “commander” he will lose for having opposed the change that finally leads Pierre Nkurunziza to the reins of the CNDD-FDD.
With the pardon granted by the new boss of the CNDD-FDD and following the cease-fire agreement of 2003, he is demobilized under the rank of Major and embraces the political career first as representative of this party in his province, then as elected member of this constituency in 2005, before finally being the spokesman of the President of the Republic from February 2007 to March 2015. During his duties, he attended the evening program at the University of Lake Tanganyika. He comes out with a degree in Sociology.
Opposed to the third term of Pierre Nkurunziza, he is hunted down and takes the path of exile. He is now president of the party PPD-Girijambo founded by the slingers of the CNDD-DDD.