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Faith Nyasuguta 

Just when it all seemed calm, Burundi’s political tensions have been sparked again, following suspicions that some senior leaders were plotting to topple President Evariste Ndayishimiye.

During a Friday address, President Ndayishimiye cautioned that “some individuals” who he did not name are threatening to overthrow his government, just after two years in office.

Previous unrest in Burundi 🇧🇮/AFP/

Do you think an army general can be threatened by saying they will make a coup d’état?  Who is that? Whoever it is should come and in the name of God I will defeat him,” Mr Ndayishimiye cautioned.

The head of state expressed his frustration in the country’s political capital after video clips circulated on social media showing the country’s Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni lamenting about “individuals who are backbiting” instead of telling things straight away.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye /The times of Africa/

The clips sparked concerns of a possible feud between the Prime Minister and the President following a power struggle even though the two have often appeared in public and the council of ministers meetings together.

“I want to tell those who think they are powerful to be humble…there is one I saw…in Burundi, there will never be any coup d’état again and God is the witness…those who wish bad things for Burundi, they should prepare for defeat,” the Burundian leader and army general warned.

A University of Bujumbura professor noted that the tensions between the PM and the President may be because of the policy changes under Gen Ndayishimiye.

There is a struggle inside the system as the president is changing a lot of things like fighting corruption and impunity. Many within are feeling the pinch,” he said on condition of anonymity so he can discuss the topic without fear of reprisals.

Taking over power in June 2020, the president vowed to restore the rule of law, accountability and fight against impunity.  

Unrest in Burundi /BBC/

This has resulted in dozens of high profile government officials relieved from their duties for failure to deliver

The push has seen him regularise ties with the West as financial sanctions imposed by the European Union were lifted in February this year.

Since gaining independence in 1962, Burundi has gone through turmoil with the most recent political crisis dating back in 2015 when protests against the ex-president Pierre Nkurunziza led to deaths of over 1,000 people. 

There was a coup attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza’s government as he attended a summit of the East African Community in Dar es Salaam. The culprits are still serving jail terms.

Ex-president Pierre Nkurunziza /Getty Images/

“A coup d’état at this moment is more difficult but what we need to understand is that there is a crack within the system, and who knows what comes tomorrow? The president is facing a big challenge now,” the professor argued.

So far, Burundi has witnessed three coups, two presidential assassinations, in addition to the failed coup in 2015 that plunged the country into deadly unrest.
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Faith Nyasuguta

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