Burundi Accuses Belgium of Ordering Assassination of Independence Hero

Crown Prince Louis Rwagasore was a Burundian Royal and politician who is considered a significant figure in the history of Burundi nationalism. He served as prime minister and was assassinated shortly before Burundian independence. This is his mausoleum.
15 October 2018

Burundi on Sunday accused former colonial power Belgium of ordering the assassination of independence hero and Crown Prince Louis Rwagasore in 1961, a move likely to further poison ties between the two countries.

A government statement said Belgium was the "true backer of the assassination of Rwagasore", in the first direct accusation over the murder by Bujumbura, which said it plans to probe the six-decade-old incident.

The statement said that Brussels "has yet to explain itself" over the killing of Rwagasore, who played a key role in Burundi's anti-colonial movement.

Rwagasore was named prime minister in the run-up to independence but was shot dead a month later by a Greek assassin accompanied by three Burundian members of a pro-Belgian party at a hotel in the capital -- a little over a year before independence was achieved in July 1962.

He is one of Burundi's most beloved heroes, with his name gracing stadiums, schools and roads across the country.

In the statement, the government said it "plans to launch a technical commission to investigate the assassinations ... of Rwagasore" and his two young children a few months later.

The Kingdom of Burundi, believed to date to the 17th century, came under German colonial rule in 1890, but was awarded by the League of Nations to Belgium after World War I.

Rwagasore was the eldest son of King Mwambutsa IV.

Burundi has been gripped by political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in office in 2015, provoking severe civil unrest that has left at least 1,200 dead and displaced over 400,000 people.

In October 2016, Belgium withdrew its ambassador to Burundi and suspended several development projects, as Bujumbura's relations with foreign allies worsened over the crisis.

The following month, the executive secretary of the ruling CNDD-FDD Evariste Ndayishimiye accused Belgium of "acting as if Burundi is still under its yoke," on Twitter, after accusing it of backing the opposition.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Monitor

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.