Cablegate: Burundi Hardline Opposition Leader Does Not Rule

Published: Mon 20 Aug 2007 05:18 PM
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1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting on August 7 to elicit his
perceptions of Burundi's political stalemate, influential
Union for National Progress (UPRONA) party firebrand, Terence
Sinunguruza, suggested that President Pierre Nkurunziza's
continued disregard for his country's constitution and the
Arusha Peace accords point to a dictatorial trend by the
ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Forces
for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party. Sinunguruza
also warned that Nkurunziza was ignoring a rise in Hutu
dominance in Burundi's army and police forces, in direct
violation of the provisions of the Arusha agreements, and
suggested that Tutsi minority groups would use violence if
their security becomes threatened. Sinunguruza accused
President Nkurunziza of using First Vice President and UPRONA
party member, Dr. Martin Nduwimana, as an accessory to his
government and a tool for weakening the UPRONA party.
Sinunguruza claimed that his UPRONA party is actively seeking
dialogue with the ruling government and is participating
fully in the legislative process which threatens to halt
Burundi's economic progress. End Summary.
2. (SBU) In a meeting with the Ambassador on August 7,
hard-line UPRONA leader Sinunguruza claimed that President
Nkurunziza's refusal to abide by the principles of the Arusha
Peace accords and the Burundi constitution is tantamount to a
'declaration of war' between the CNDD-FDD ruling party and
UPRONA. Sinunguruza claimed that UPRONA was ready to
mobilize if there are any attempts by the ruling government
to void the Arusha accords or the constitution. Sinunguruza
purported that Nkurunziza is moving closer towards
dictatorship which is unacceptable to those who fought for a
democratically elected government. The former Burundi
Ambassador to the U.N. emphasized that Nkurunziza must
arrange a coalition between the CNDD-FDD party and minority
voices to avoid the perception of a dictatorship which, in
Sinunguruza's opinion could ultimately bring back a period of
war. Sinunguruza added that he would not be surprised if
political opponents decided to fight the ruling government
3. (SBU) Terence Sinunguruza also expressed concern over
the growing dominance of Hutus in all factions of the
government and the security sector. In particular, he noted
that the number of Hutus in the army and police has grown to
more than 70 percent of the total force, in violation of the
50 percent agreed upon through the Arusha Peace accords.
Sinunguruza predicted that with the expected future inclusion
of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL, Hutus could represent nearly 90
percent of the army. Sinunguruza warned that UPRONA, whose
membership is primarily Tutsi, cannot accept a majority of
more than 80 percent in the security sector. Having fought
for the rights of minority voices during the Arusha
discussions, Sinunguruza stated that this rise in Hutu
dominance, a trend he believes is a preoccupation of the
ruling government, will represent a breach in security for
all minority factions and lead to the destabilization of
peace. Sinunguruza asserted that an army dominated by one
group and the ensuing question of minority security, led to
Burundi's civil wars in the past and threatens to do so yet
4. (SBU) Sinunguruza, the former Minister of Foreign
Affairs during the 2003 to 2005 transition period, described
Burundi as being in an institutional crisis caused by the
current administration's disregard for the constitution and
the Arusha Peace accords upon which the constitution was
based. Sinunguruza stated that participants to the Arusha
talks agreed that the ethnic cause of Burundi's civil war
prompted the crafters of the accords to monitor very closely
the ethnic participation in the political and security
sectors of a peaceful Burundi. Sinunguruza stressed the
valuable role that UPRONA played in the agreements and said
that, in the interest of peace, all parties made concessions
to reach an equitable settlement. He stated that the
provisions agreed upon at Arusha are as valid in the
post-transition government as they had been prior to the 2005
elections, and emphasized the ruling CNDD-FDD party had 'only
won the election, not the war'. Sinunguruza accused
Nkurunziza of failing to promote peaceful stability and
alleged that Nkurunziza is ignoring the recent retreat of the
PALIPEHUTU-FNL from the Joint Verification and Monitoring
Mechanism (JVMM) mandated by the September 2006 cease-fire
agreement with the government of Burundi (GOB). Sinunguruza
claimed that the PALIPEHUTU-FNL is actively recruiting in
thirteen of Burundi's seventeen provinces and said that
Nkurunziza is wrong if the government does not view this as a
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problem. Sinunguruza warned that the PALIPEHUTU-FNL is
becoming increasingly more powerful militarily and
5. (SBU) Sinunguruza complained that President Nkurunziza
is trying to control Burundi's First Vice President and
UPRONA party member, Dr. Martin Nduwimana. Sinunguruza
claimed that meetings requested by UPRONA with Nkurunziza are
not endorsed or facilitated by UPRONA's First Vice President.
Sinunguruza also railed against President Nkurunziza's
recent ministerial appointments, saying that Nkurunziza has
the support of the First Vice President but not of the UPRONA
party. Sinunguruza accused Nkurunziza of using Nduwimana to
destroy UPRONA's power. Although Sinunguruza characterized
Nduwimana as a UPRONA rebel, he viewed Nkurunziza's
manipulation of the First Vice President as a political
mistake. Sinunguruza also claimed that Nkurunziza is not
controlling his government and appears to be taking direction
from others in decisions relating to matters of state. The
UPRONA party leader mentioned that former CNDD-FDD party
head, Hussein Radjabu, as being the de-facto leader in the
past, but now UPRONA alleges that Nkurunziza is being advised
by high level members of CNDD-FDD's military wing.
6. (SBU) Sinunguruza accused Nkurunziza of reneging on
promises to the international community to form a government
and create policies that are more inclusive for all of
Burundi's minority voices. Sinunguruza alleged that, to
date, Nkurunziza has failed to do so. In stark contrast,
Sinunguruza described Nkurunziza's recent speech in the
province of Rutana, where the president portrayed parliament
members currently abstaining from legislative votes as rebels
to the government, as imflammatory and devisive. In defense
of his own party politics, Sinunguruza articulated that
UPRONA is ready for true dialogue between all of the
important actors on Burundi's political landscape. He
claimed that, despite what other political parties may state,
UPRONA desires a partnership with the ruling party government
in managing the affairs of state. Sinunguruza declared that
UPRONA is not adopting an 'empty chair' policy in the
legislative process and will fully participate in the
political process. Sinunguruza said that UPRONA will never
reject any bills or laws that will impede the economic
welfare of the state and will not block economic progress by
voting against the current budget proposals. In an effort to
reach a political compromise to the current impasse,
Sinunguruza suggested that Nkurunziza's government should put
their position in writing, delineating what his
administration will, or will not, do in partnership with the
minority voices.
7. (SBU) Comment: Future dictatorship, the prospect of war,
and ethnic division are certainly key themes Sinunguruza
sought to emphasize while taking his opportunity to speak
about the political impasse. Although Sinunguruza ultimately
espoused frank and productive dialogue with Nkurunziza to
overcome the political difficulties plaguing Burundi, he
nonetheless confidently and comfortably conveyed that his
UPRONA faction was ready to go on the offensive should his
Tutsi-dominated party continue to feel threatened or excluded
by the government. To date, Sinunguruza is the only
political leader who has offered the prospect of renewed
violence as an endgame to the political stalemate, and the
only person to introduce ethnicity as a contributing factor
to the government's reluctance to form a coalition with
minority voices. It seems contradictory that a leader who so
eloquently lauded the ideals and success of the Arusha Peace
accords would speak so forcefully about the potential of
introducing ethnicity and violence into the current political
quagmire. It sounds much as if, in Sinunguruza, the welfare
of the nation is taking a back seat to political ambition.
End Comment.
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