Cablegate: Burundi's Civil Society Puts Pressure On

DE RUEHJB #0585/01 2321700
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting with the Ambassador on
August 13, civil society leaders Onesphore Nduwayo of
Governmant Action Watch (OAG) and Jean-Marie Vianney
Kavumbagu of Ligue Iteka expressed serious concerns over
President Pierre Nkurunziza's lack of action to address the
political storm facing Burundi. Nduwayo and Kavumbagu urged
Nkurunziza and his ruling National Council for the Defense of
Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD)
party to promote peaceful dialogue and to discontinue
parlance that hinted at future violence. The civil society
leaders condemned the recent publication of photographs in
the CNDD-FDD party newspaper meant to disparage opposition
members and portray them as public targets of future
violence. Nduwayo and Kavumbagu also expressed concern over
the increased criminality that is sweeping through Bujumbura
and the surrounding areas, contributing to the fears of
insecurity felt by the public. Kavumbagu and Nduwayo
pondered whether Nkurunziza has the ability to focus on the
important decisions of state and offered the possibility that
Nkurunziza was being directed by others within his party. In
conclusion, the spokespersons for OAG and Ligue Iteka
recommended that Nkurunziza take the initiative to call all
political factions to the negotiating table for good faith
dialogue. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The leader of the civil society group OAG, Nduwayo,
opined that Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has reasons
to worry and is not fully cognizant of the political
situation in Burundi, portraying the situation as 'grave'.
Nduwayo asserts that the majority of the National Assembly is
opposed to Nkurunziza (Comment: A questionable assertion. End
Comment), which was reflected in the President's speech in
Rutana where he characterized certain assembly members as
'rebels'. Nduwayo claimed that Nkurunziza's ruling CNDD-FDD
party was deeply divided with some party members feigning
loyalty to Nkurunziza. Nduwayo also questioned the lack of
response from Nkurunziza when the President of the Senate,
Gervais Rufyikiri, sent a letter to Nkurunziza asking him to
explain the constitutionality of his newly formed government.
Lastly, Nduwayo pointed to the large gap in cooperation
between the governmnet and their main opposition parties, the
Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) and Union for
National Progress (UPRONA).

3. (SBU) OAG leader, Nduwayo, questioned whether President
Nkurunziza is indeed able to focus on making decisions.
Nduwayo surmised that Nkurunziza has trouble analysing
situations and wondered aloud if there were indeed others who
were directing Nkurunziza in the affairs of state. In
particular, Nduwayo pointed to the stalled talks with the
PALIPEHUTU-FNL. Nduwayo asserts that there is an immediate
need to move forward with the peace process initiated by the
September 2006 ceasefire agreement. He claims that some of
Burundi's people have an increasing dread of insecurity due
to the PALIPEHUTU-FNL unanswered question and others are
taking advantage of the confusion with PALIPEHUTU-FNL with
increased criminality. Nduwayo stressed that Nkurunziza
should also focus on the management and prosecution of the
scandals plaguing the country. Nduwayo suggested that
'cover-ups' were common to protect powerful people of the
same political philosophies. The OAG leader emphasized that
the population can not affird to pay for the errors and
malfeasance of their superiors. As a human rights advocate,
Kavumbagu worries too about the criminality in and around the
government. Although cases of crime, even as minor as armed
robbery, are reported daily, Nduwayo laments that no one ever
seems to be caught. Kavumbagu suggests that while the
political elite maneuver and struggle for power, the vacuum
in the management of internal affairs is being filled with

4. (SBU) In addition to the thoughts expressed by Nduwayo,
Ligue Iteka representative, Kavumbagu, lamented that there
seemed to be no end to the deadlock between Nkurunziza's
government and the opposition parties, exacerbated by the
recent formation of the new cabinet minus the active
participation of FRODEBU and UPRONA. Kavumbagu cited the
multiple cases of corruption rampant in the nation and
suggested that Nkurunziza feared impeachment by the
opposition for his possible involvement in various
controversial scandals, such as Interpetrol and the sale of
the presidential jet. Kavumbagu suggests that two major
camps have formed within the political spectrum: an
opposition group bent on the impeachment of Nkurunziza,
including those CNDD-FDD party members loyal to former party
leader Hussein Radjabu; and those who advocate support of the

BUJUMBURA 00000585 002 OF 002

President by advising him to make competent decisions and
appointees, to respect the political process and constitution.

5. (SBU) Kavumbagu expressed concern over the ambiguous and
dangerous communication strategies being utlilized by
Nkurunziza recently. Kavumbagu said that Nkurunziza is more
frequently using 'warring' language and claims that
Nkurunziza mentions a risk of future warfare in his speeches
without being specific. With regard to the recent
publication of names, photos and family information in the
CNDD-FDD party newspaper of opposition members, Kavumbagu
asked retorically if thisis Nkurunziza's way of creating
targets for the ire of the public. Kavumbagu stressed that
Nkurunziza be more clear in his language and his intent. OAG
spokesperson, Nduwayo, reiterated Kavumbagu's comments about
the newspaper publication incident and added that Nkurunziza
needs to begin to use more peaceful language because there
are still thousands of weapons in the hands of ordinary

6. (SBU) In response to queries about a way forward, both
of the civil society leaders called for Nkurunziza to engage
in clear dialogue. The two leaders stressed that the
President must be politically realistic and engage in the
dialogue with goodwill and in good faith. Without dialogue,
they said, all of the major political opposition will adopt
the hardline against the government. Nduwayo and Kavumbagu
also hoped that Nkurunziza would be able to rise above the
demands of those military advisors who are dictating their
will and wishes upon the president. As to the opposition
factions, the spokespersons asserted that the minority
parties will be responsible for what happens to the nation in
the future and urged them to resist being guided by personal
interests. Nduwayo and Kavumbagu demanded that the minority
voices respond positively if asked for dialogue, Lastly, the
two civil society leaders asked the international community
to exert its pressure on all factions to come to the
negotiating table. When asked if civil society, in turn, can
assert its influence in the political landscape, Nduwayo and
Kavumbagu reassured the group that pressure can be applied,
but it's effect is limited, and they risked losing
credibility if the influence is not used judiciously.

7. (SBU) Comment: Contrary to any of the previous
discussions with government officials and opposition leaders,
Nduwayo and Kavumbagu presented perspectives that truly have
the nation and its people as the focus. Without absolving
the major opposition parties of their responsibility to help
pull Burundi out of this political and economic malaise,
civil society is putting the burden for reconciliation and
progress in the lap of Nkurunziza and his government.
Although civil society views its influence on Nkurunziza and
the political parties as limited, and as objective and astute
observers on the periphery of the political landscape able to
interpret the varied political messages, the people of
Burundi can not afford these voices to remain silent. End

© Scoop Media

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