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Cablegate: Dissension Within Burundi's Opposition Uprona

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJB #0522 2041521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231521Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0438
RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000522

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/C AND INR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL BY
SUBJECT: DISSENSION WITHIN BURUNDI'S OPPOSITION UPRONA

REF: BUJUMBURA 513

1. (U) Summary. The Executive Committee of UPRONA voted to
suspend from the party its two highest-ranking members of the
government, following the party's decision not to participate
in the new cabinet. After his suspension, the First
Vice-President of the Republic consulted the arm of the party
with the statutory authority to suspend members, the Central
Committee, which asserted its authority, and subsequently
overturned the ruling by the Executive Committee. End
Summary.

2. (U) The Executive Committee of Burundi's third-largest
political party, the Union for National Progress (UPRONA),
voted July 19 to suspend Burundi's First Vice-President, Dr.
Martin Nduwimana, from the party, as well as to suspend the
recently appointed Minister of Transportation, Philippe
Njoni. The suspensions followed broad changes in the cabinet
of President Pierre Nkurunziza, announced July 13 (Reftel).
Dr. Nduwimana and Mr. Njoni are the UPRONA party's highest
ranking members in the cabinet.

3. (U) UPRONA had refused to participate in the new
government, and indeed, Dr. Yves Sahinguvu, the newly
appointed Minister of Public Health, declined his nomination,
citing internal party rules. Some older UPRONA members from
Dr. Nduwimana's home province of Bururi had urged the party
to dismiss the First Vice-President for his willingness to
sign the President's decree announcing the new cabinet
members, and the new Minister of Transport for his agreement
to join the government. When the Executive Committee made
the July 19 announcement to suspend the two, the First
Vice-President consulted the party's Central Committee to
explain his reasons for signing the decree. The Central
Committee convened, and declaring their authority in this
matter, decided that the First Vice-President and the new
Minister of Transport would remain members of the party and
of the government.

Internal Workings of UPRONA
---------------------------

4. (U) UPRONA's internal control is exercised through two
arms of the party, the Executive Committee, comprised of
thirty-four members, and the much larger Central Committee.
The Executive Committee was able to garner twenty-six votes
in favor of the suspensions, and made its announcement
without the approval of the Central Committee. Though
smaller, the Executive Committee is composed of established
and powerful members, and has much sway in the party, but, in
accordance with party guidelines, it does not have the
authority to suspend members. This authority rests with the
larger Central Committee.

5. (U) The Central Committee enjoys a much more broad-based
and representative swath of the party. It is comprised of
twenty members from each of Burundi's seventeen provinces,
twenty university students from across the country, and eight
"National Secretaries." According to UPRONA's internal
statutes (Article 46), for a general member of the party to
be suspended, the Central Committee must convene a
"Disciplinary Council", which then makes a recommendation of
suspension (or not) to the Central Committee. It is at this
point that the Central Committee decides, and makes known its
decision.

6. (SBU) Comment. This disagreement between the Executive
and Central Committees could signal a potential rift in the
party. According to some political observers here, the
Executive Committee is comprised of prominent, permanent
members who do the daily work of the party, but most of the
power in the party is statutorily invested in the Central
Committee. Granting that the Executive Committee overreached
in its attempt to suspend the party's highest ranking members
in the government, its come-uppance by the Central Committee
will likely rankle, and could have further consequences. End
Comment.
MOLLER

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