Burundi opposition chief Rwasa enters presidential race

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Agathon Rwasa joins the race

Burundi opposition Congrès National pour la Liberté [CNL] or National Congress for Freedom party has picked Agathon Rwasa as its presidential candidate in the May 2020 national election.

Rwasa was approved by delegates Sunday during CNL party’s massively attended extraordinary Congress in the capital Bujumbura.

The party is celebrating its first anniversary, a long journey full of pitfalls but also of success.

It was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, the members of the BP, the representatives of the other parties present who congratulated Rwasa.

Victoria University

In his speech, Rwasa reaffirmed the full and firm will of the party to participate in the electoral race and to rebuild Burundi as a dignified and respected country.

He was indignant at certain leaders who confuse democracy with electoral victory and the bad governance that follows on all fronts, hence instability and actions that contrast diametrically with democracy.

Rwasa will be facing Burundi’s first Vice-President H.E Gaston Sindimwo, the UPRONA Party candidate and the ruling National Defense Council of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy [CNDD-FDD] party candidate General-Major Évariste Ndayishimiye.

“Democracy is taking root more and more in Burundi. I congratulate Hon. A. Rwasa chosen by CNL members as their May Presidential Candidate. I encourage voters and candidates to compete that respects democratic rules and the rule of law,” Evariste said while welcoming his challenger to the race.

Rwasa and his wife

Crackdown

Rwasa’s CNL members have suffered the worst crackdown over the years at the hands of government agents.

SOS Media Burundi reported on Saturday that police early this week arrested Stany Sindayikengera, a member of CNL party.

Caught by officers from the police station of Kibuye in the district of Rugazi in Bubanza province (west Burundi), he was passed by the custody of Muzinda in the same province before he was taken to the chief town of the province.

The reasons behind the arrest of the former member of the CNDD-FDD are not known.

Stany Sindayikengera is detained at the provincial police commission.

A leader of the main opposition party, Mr. Sindayikengera, said he has likely been jailed for refusing to convince his daughter to leave the party led by Rwasa.

Another CNL member, known under his only name of Anatole, is also in detention.

He is accused of undermining the interior state security.

He was previously acquitted by judges of the Bubanza tribunal but kept in detention after the prosecutor’s appeal.

Presidential candidate Rwasa

Agathon Rwasa is a Burundian politician and the leader of the National Liberation Forces (Forces pour la Libération Nationale, FNL).

Rwasa addresses party members

He was a Hutu militia leader during the Burundi Civil War.

Rwasa was reported to be a Born-again Christian.

Early life and education

Born to Hutu parents on January 10, 1964 in Ngozi (North), Rwasa is the seventh child in the family of 14 children.

He attended primary and secondary education in his native province.

At the age of 20, he was appointed head of the association of young intellectuals.

After graduating from the University of Burundi, he was wanted by the government like most other Hutu intellectuals in the region. He was responsible for the gatumba massacre that resulted in 166 members of a tutsi minority killed.

Political career

From a member of the political bureau, he quickly rose to become the leader of the National Liberation Forces (FNL).

After 20 years in the bush, he returned home in 2008.

The FNL has also been accused of using hundreds of child soldiers, and for killing and maiming women, children and babies.

In September 2006, the FNL signed a peace deal with the government.

In June 2010, Rwasa went into hiding, claiming he was facing arrest for allegedly destabilising the country following district elections.

However, Burundi’s attorney general stated that there is no warrant out for Rwasa.

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