3 January 2018

Burundi: Rwasa Worried About Change of His Guard

"They ignored my request and concern and removed soldiers who were guarding me," says Agathon Rwasa, First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the chairman of the opposition political coalition 'Amizero y'Abarundi'. He says his safety is in danger.

On December 27, the soldiers who were guarding him were removed from him. Agathon Rwasa says he doesn't know the motives behind this decision by the Minister of National Defense.

Only soldiers were removed from the guard composed of soldiers from the Special Brigade in charge of protecting institutions [BSPI] and police officers from the Police Unit in charge of protecting Institutions [API].

For this, on December 30, 2017, Rwasa wrote a letter to William Benjamin Mkapa, Facilitator in Burundian political conflict, informing him that he has been persecuted since his return from the 4th session of the Inter-Burundian dialogue that was held in Arusha, Tanzania from November 27 to December 8. He says he is persecuted for having expressed opinions different from those of the government during the dialogue session.

He said his persecution consists of exposing political actors to precarious security conditions in order to prevent them from getting involved in the process of constitutional referendum recently launched by the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.

"It is in this context that the Minister of Defense has decided to affect elsewhere all members of the National Army assigned to my security without informing or consulting me on the reasons behind all that, "reads Rwasa's letter to Mkapa.

He asks the facilitator to call on Bujumbura Government to put an end to persecutions against him.

Colonel Gaspard Baratuza, Spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense said the removal of the security guards from the First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly aims at harmonizing the guard of all State institutions. "All high government officials starting from the Speaker of the National Assembly and Senate, like other personalities, are guarded by the police", he said.

Baratuza also said the soldiers were replaced by police agents. "His security guards did not change at all. He will get the same number of security guards as before", he says adding that soldiers are currently being removed from all small military positions to be trained to secure the country's borders.The spokesman for the Police, Pierre Nkurikiye says Rwasa's security is guaranteed. "The security of all Burundians including Rwasa is ensured. We have no information about any threat against him, "says Nkurikiye.

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