Rwanda: Enraged Retired Rebels Return

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June 27, 2011: The Burundian government is blaming a series of attacks on towns, vehicles, and sports events on bandits. The people, however, are not buying it. Since the last week of May several spectacular terror attacks have occurred that have gotten regional headlines and scared a lot of people. Media coverage and public fear are the aims of terror attacks. The general opinion in Burundi is that a National Liberation Forces (FNL) faction is launching the attacks and trying to incite a new Hutu insurgency. Opposition political leaders, however, claim the government has cracked down on its political opponents so hard that anti-government violence is inevitable.

June 25, 2011: A bus in southern Burundi (Bururi province) was ambushed by unidentified gunmen.

June 23, 2011: Rwandan announced on June 22 that it had detained several more suspects on charges of belonging to a terrorist group, in addition to the six arrested in early May. The suspects revealed that they receive support from two organizations, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and Convention National des Republicains (CNR). The suspects said they had been sent into Rwanda to recruit more volunteers to carry out attacks.

June 22, 2011: Armed men wearing police uniforms launched several attacks in Burundi. In one attack they attacked a small bus in northwestern Burundi, near the town of Buganda. The attackers robbed the passengers then forced several of them to lie on the ground. The attackers then poured gasoline on the passengers and set them on fire. Two people died and two people were injured. Another group of these attackers assaulted a police station in the capital, and killed a policeman. One attacker died in the firefight. Another attack occurred in eastern Burundi (Ruyigi province) where attackers assassinated a tribal chief who belonged to the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD, the governing party).

June 15, 2011: In mid-May the CNDD-FDD said that it would not negotiate with opposition party leaders about problems arising from the 2010 elections. However, since the beginning of June, there have been rumors that negotiations would soon start. However, the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, and other governing party officials are denying that negotiations are taking place. Opposition party members say the government’s refusal to listen to their concerns could lead to violence and possibly a new rebellion.

June 5, 2011: The government of Belgium is warning Burundi that it may reduce aid if Burundi does not fight internal corruption. Belgium is also concerned about increasing violence in Burundi and reports of police torture. Transparency International ranked Burundi as east Africa’s most corrupt nation in 2010.

June 2, 2011: Soldiers serving with Burundi’s peacekeeping force in Somalia are claiming they have not been paid for nearly five months. Collectively the Burundian soldiers (around 4000) are owed $20 million. The government claims that the money, disbursed by the African Union, is in the government’s national bank. The money goes directly into an individual soldier’s bank account and his family has access to the account. However, several soldiers claim that isn’t true. The soldiers believe someone in the government has stolen the money.

May 29, 2011: Gunmen in Burundi murdered four people and wounded three others when the attackers opened fire on a soccer game. Many of the fans at the match were members of Burundi’s majority political party. Residents told officials that one of the attackers sang a song identified with the Hutu FNL (National Liberation Forces) guerrilla group.

May 23, 2011: Many claim that the stage is being set for a new civil war in Burundi. Opposition parties accuse the government of acting increasingly arbitrary and the police have cracked down on opposition parties. The Arusha Peace Accord (signed in August 2000) is in danger of unraveling.

May 17, 2011: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sentenced a former Rwandan Army senior general to 30 years in prison. He was convicted on being involved in the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

May 13, 2011: Rwandan police detained six people on charges of belonging to an armed group that is based in the eastern Congo. That is usually bureaucratese for members of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) but there are other radical factions operating out of the Congo. The government statement suggested the people arrested were involved in a plot to commit terrorist acts inside Rwanda.

May 4, 2011: The trial of two former FDLR commanders has begun in Germany. Both leaders, Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni , face numerous charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. German prosecutors have gathered evidence in the eastern Congo against both men. The men were arrested in 2009. Their prosecutions may lead to further arrests of members of the FDLR living in Europe.

 

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