Cablegate: Burundi's Former President Ndayizeye Fears for His

Published: Fri 24 Aug 2007 09:30 AM
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1. (SBU) Summary: Former Burundi President Domitien
Ndayizeye called for an impromptu meeting with Ambassador
Moller on August 23 to express his concerns over his personal
security in light of the recent rise in harassment and
intimidation towards opposition figures by the National
Police. Ndayizeye feared that several high-profile events,
such as the grenade attacks against the Parliamentarians and
the rise in criminality, track to similar events which led to
instability in the past and, more notably, to his arrest as a
suspected coup plotter in 2006. Ndayizeye complained that
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his government are
not sensitive to the growing neurosis in Burundi and believes
that Nkurunziza is not be capable of controlling his
government or his advisors. Although Ndayizeye recognized
the positive steps shown by Nkurunziza to initiate dialogue
with opposition party Union for National Progress (UPRONA)
and Ndayizeye's own Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU)
party, he has little confidence that Nkurunziza will follow
through on any new promises and is unsure of the future
success of dialogue between the embattled political factions.
End Summary.
2. (SBU) In a meeting with Ambassador Moller on August 23,
former Burundi President Domitien Ndayizeye expressed concern
for his personal safety and freedom. Ndayizeye stated that,
due to recent incidents of harassment, his own security
detail is afraid for their wellbeing. According to
Ndayizeye, in the last week, a member of the National Police
force verbally harassed one of Ndayizeye's 'sub-officers',
warning that the security of the sub-officer and Ndayizeye
depended on the will of the police. In telling his story to
Ndayizeye, the sub-officer said that the police accused the
former president of manipulating the FRODEBU party and
directing FRODEBU efforts to discredit President Nkurunziza
and his ruling National Council for the Defense of
Democracy-Forces for the Defense for Democracy (CNDD-FDD)
party. He added that the police also assured the sub-officer
that should Ndayizeye be charged with an offense and taken
into custoday once more, and unlike 2006, the police would
not allow Ndayizeye his freedom again. Ndayizeye added that
additional incidents of harassment occured as recently as
August 22, including a threatening phone call to his wife.
3. (SBU) Former president Ndayizeye compared the recent
spate of harassment and intimidation incidents to similar
events just prior to his arrest in 2006 as a suspect in a
purported coup plot against Nkurunziza's government. Being a
source of continued suspicion, Ndayizeye stated that, in
2006, he sought the advice of African Union Ambassador to
Burundi Mamadou Bah in deciding if Ndayizeye should go into
temporary exile. Ambassador Bah convinced Ndayizeye to
remain in Burundi whereupon the government arrested Ndayizeye
a short time later. Claiming that he is merely an
ex-president who is no more politically active than other
citizens, Ndayizeye said that he did not know what to do.
Although not his first choice, Ndayizeye still considered
temporary exile, perhaps to the U.S., as an option.
Ndayizeye ended his comments stating that he will 'try to
4. (SBU) When queried by the Ambassador as to what
Ndayizeye recommended she do, the former president replied
that it is necessary for Burundi's partners to continue the
discussions that have taken place over the last weeks to
ensure that the government and opposition parties begin to
move in a positive direction. Ndayizeye suggested that the
international community also continue to pressure
Nkurunziza's government to follow through on their promise to
initiate a dialogue in good faith. Ndayizeye opined that
people in opposition to government policies are not enemies
but should be considered partners in the legislative process;
opposition factions have a right to voice their thoughts
without fear of retribution or punushment. Unfortunately,
Ndayizeye claimed, the government wants to play the game on
the military field, sparking fears of war, rather than the
political field.
5. (SBU) Ndayizeye complained of a growing neurosis within
the country, evidenced by the grenade attacks on the
Parliamentarians, the events surrounding the attempt to
arrest FRODEBU party spokesperson, Pancrace Cimpaye, and the
general rise in tension among the Burundi citizenry.
Ndayizeye commented that he does not believe that the ruling
government is sensitive to the gravity of the situation.
Ndayizeye doubted the ability of President Nkurunziza to
control his governmnet and advisors. In particular,
Ndayizeye stated that Nkurunziza is unable to control Adolphe
Nshimirimana, the head of Burundi's National Intelligence
Services (SNR) and Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, the Director
General of the National Police, both speculated to be close
advisors to Nkurunziza. Ndayizeye explained that to
adequately control his advisors, Nkurunziza must be willing
to punish those who commit wrong-doings, and Nkurunziza must
separate himself from advisors that are only providing bad
and 'embarrassing' counsel. Both of these actions, Ndayizeye
claims, Nkurunziza is heistant to do.
4. (SBU) Referring to the meeting in Ngozi between President
Nkurunziza and FRODEBU kingpins, Leonce Ngendakumana, the
party leader and his deputy, Frederic Bamvuginyumvira,
Ndayizeye described the encounter as mildly productive,
recognizing that Nkurunziza made a commitment to continue a
dialogue with opposition parties in the coming days but also
claiming that Nkurunziza and his ruling CNDD-FDD party made
many promises in their two years in power which have not been
fulfilled. Ndayizeye expressed his uncertainty as to whether
dialogue between the political factions would be enough to
stem the political malaise. Ndayizeye added that no talk of
the attempted arrest of Cimpaye, or the grenade attacks on
the five Parliamentarians took place in Ngozi. Ndayizeye
also indicated that he did not know if his FRODEBU colleagues
planned to discuss Ndayizeye's security fears at their next
meeting with President Nkurunziza.
5. (SBU) Comment: While the prospects for improvement on
the political landscape have been buoyed by the promise of
dialogue by President Nkurunziza, Ndayizye's tale of woe,
added to other recent high profile incidents of intimidation,
confirm that the security situation in Burundi is heading in
the opposite direction. Possibly better than anyone else in
the political arena, Ndayizeye can compare the rise in
criminality, public tension and blind accusations to similar
events preceding with the arrest of suspected coup plotters
and journalists in 2006 and, perhaps, contributing to the
decline into chaos experienced by Burundi in the early
1990's. It also may not be too much of a coincidence that
Ndayizeye requested the impromptu meeting with the Ambassador
directly on the heels of the irresponsible behavior of the
national police at the Ambassador's residence the previous
day. As Ndayizeye was raising options for his immediate
future, he sent a clear message that a future appeal for USG
assistance, similar to the government-sponsored visit granted
to former President Pierre Buyoya in the past, is an option.
Perhaps Ndayizeye is simply leveraging American outrage over
recent events to try and advance his personal agenda. End
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