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Cablegate: President Nkurunziza Takes Action to Initiate


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E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: During the week of August 27, Ambassador
Moller met with Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and key
political leaders in follow-up to the unprecendented Ngozi
meetings the previous week between Nkurunziza and the
opposition FRODEBU and UPRONA parties. President Nkurunziza
called an impromptu tete-a-tete meeting with the Ambassador
to update her on his progress with the looming IMF budgetary
crisis and the security situation with the PALIPEHUTU-FNL.
Notably, and in stark contrast to earlier meetings with the
FRODEBU leader, party president Leonce Ngundakumana expressed
satisfaction and optimism for cooperation with Nkurunziza's
administration. Ngendakumana proclaimed that dialogue is now
part of the culture of Burundi and the only alternative for
ensuring progress. With much less enthusiasm, Aloys Rubuka,
leader of UPRONA declared cautious optimism for a continued
partnership with the current regime. The UPRONA party itself
appears to be experiencing an internal meltdown, having split
into two antagonistic factions principally over the ejection
of Burundi First Vice-President, Dr. Martin Nduwimana, from
the party. Leonard Nyangoma, the CNDD party president who
recently returned from exile in Europe, presented a
pessimistic view of the political landscape and the security
sector. Nyangoma asserted that he and his party were ready
to work with President Nkurunziza but declared his
reinstatement to the National Assembly as a condition for his
continued cooperation. Africa Public Radio announced that
politicians close to Nkurunziza planned a false coup for the
end of August to facilitate the President's rumored intent to
wrest power from the National Assembly through the
declaration of a state of emergency. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) In an impromptu meeting on August 30, President
Nkurunziza updated Ambassador Moller on his progress in
addressing a number of key issues plaguing Burundi's
political and economic development. Nkurunziza appealed for
the Ambassador to advocate on Burundi's behalf to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), calling for the IMF to
continue providing budgetary support to Nkurunziza's
government. The President noted that the IMF and the World
Bank (WB) put stipulations on the continuation of their
budgetary support and Nkurunziza claimed that he is working
towards fulfilling those obligations. Nkurunziza told the
Ambassador that Second Vice-President, Gabriel Ntisezerana,
is closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the
governmnet of Burundi (GOB) receives its planned budgetary
assistance. Addressing the Interpetrol scandal which
threatened to disrupt budgetary support, Nkurunziza said that
a process is underway to seize Interpetrol's assets in a
judicious and appropriate manner. Nkurunziza added that the
government is working with Interpol to apprehend and
extradite former Minister of Finance, Denise Sinankwa, and
the Minsiter of Finance during Burundi's transition period,
Athanase Gahungu, both of whom are suspected of wrongdoing in
the scandal with the petroleum corporation. In reference to
the 34% pay raise Nkurunziza promised to Burundi's civil
servants, the President said it is accounted for in the
current budget estimates. Nkurunziza claimed that, after some
initial wrangling, the measure now has the approval of his
entire cabinet; however, although it was unclear if the
approval is a recent development or if Nkurunziza is
referring to the time of its original proposal to the
3. (SBU) Turning his attention to the security sector,
President Nkurunziza claimed that 1,500 police officers would
be demobilized, possibly using a portion of Interpetrol's
assets currently being frozen and secured by the government.
(reftel) With regard to the continuing impasse with the
PALIPEHUTU-FNL, President Nkurunziza asked the Ambassador to
be aware and to understand that the PALIPEHUTU-FNL is still
capable of creating difficulties for the Burundi government
which may hinder compliance with a number of challenging IMF
directives. In reference to the recent political stalemate,
Ambassador Moller congratulated President Nkurunziza on
initiating a good-faith dialogue with his political
opposition parties and urged the President to continue along
this important path. The Ambassador told Nkurunziza that she
is continuing her meetings with political party leaders and
members of the government continue to promotedialogue and
encourage all parties to participate in the business of
governing the country.

4. (SBU) On Sunday, August 26, Ambassador Moller
accompanied the diplomatic corps to Gitega, Burundi's former
capital city, to observe the second anniversary of the

inauguration of the President. The Government was
well-represented; cabinet ministers and other high officials
attended. President Nkurunziza used his speech to emphasize
some of the points recommended by IMF in its action plan to
the GOB, including mention of the sale of the Presidential
airplane and the Interpetrol scandal.

5. (SBU) The leaders of the Front for Democracy in Burundi
(FRODEBU) party, Leonce Ngendakumana and his deputy Frederic
Bamvuginyumvira, met with Ambassador Moller on August 27 and
expressed optimism for a continuing and productive dialogue
with President Nkurunziza. Expressing satisfaction with the
prospect of further dialogue between FRODEBU and Nkurunziza,
Ngendakumana stated that it is important to continue moving
forward for the sake of Burundi's economic development.
During FRODEBU's August 23 discussions with Nkurunziza in
Ngozi, the Burundi president surprised Ngendakumana by
agreeing that the current framework for the government cannot
work. According to the FRODEBU party president, Nkurunziza
recognized that it was a mistake to use political party power
to form a government and that Nkurunziza is obliged to reach
a compromise for ending the political stalemate. While
commenting that he believes President Nkurunziza is beginning
to understand the seriousness of Burundi's political and
economic state, Ngendakumana also said that it is important
for the Ambassador to continue supporting Nkurunziza because
the President's ruling CNDD-FDD party is split and Nkurunziza
no longer enjoys a political majority. In conclusion to
their remarks, the FRODEBU leaders stated that their party is
committed to moving forward in cooperation with Nkurunziza's
administration. Ngendakumana stressed that FRODEBU simply
wants an equitable participatory role in the government,
explaining that if FRODEBU merely wanted political seats,
they would have had them by now.

6. (SBU) Ngendakumana and Bamvuginyumvira met Nkurunziza in
Ngozi on August 23 on the same day that Burundi's national
police attempted to arrest FRODEBU party spokesman, Pancrace
Cimpaye, for making disparaging remarks against Nkurunziza
and his ruling CNDD-FDD party. Despite the subsequent
tension and fear of violence, Ngendakumana explained that the
two leaders decided to keep their appointment with Nkurunziza
as a gesture of goodwill and to demonstrate that party
politics should not be more important than the future of
Burundi. Ngendakumana asserted that there is no longer an
alternative to dialogue; dialogue is now in the Burundi
culture, he continued, as it should be for all of Africa.

7. (SBU) On the heels of his meeting with Burundi President
Pierre Nkurunziza in Ngozi, Union for National Progress
(UPRONA) party chairman, Aloys Rubuka, visited the embassy on
August 27 to update Ambassador Moller concerning the current
relationship between his opposition party and Nkurunziza's
government. Rubuka expressed satisfaction with Nkurunziza's
gesture of goodwill by initiating clear and open dialogue
between their two factions; however he held little confidence
that dialogue alone would mend their political impasse. The
party chairman lamented that Nkurunziza does not view the
nation's problems with much importance, as evidenced by the
President's August 26 anniversary speech which Rubuka claimed
did not show a willingness by the government to move forward,
nor did it focus on the nation's political and economic
problems. Expecting more forward progress, Rubuka stated
that Burundi's Partner Roundtable is the only significant
accomplishment of Nkurunziza's tenure thus far. Rubuka also
cited a recent meeting during which President Nkurunziza
allegedly told European Ambassadors that all is well in
Burundi and no major crises existed.

8. (SBU) Aloys Rubuka complained that President Nkurunziza
has apparently chosen to eliminate opposition voices through
force rather than opening a dialogue to address the political
impasse. The UPRONA leader said that the President's ruling
National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the
Defense for Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party is split into two
factions: a wing that is willing to open a dialogue with the
opposition parties, and a stronger group that wants to use
intimidation, threats and force to silence dissenting
opinions. Rubuka referred to disparaging speeches by
Nkurunziza, the publication of opposition names and
photographs in a CNDD-FDD newspaper, and the grenade attacks
against a number of Parliamentarians as recent examples of
ruling party tactics. Rubuka stressed that this method of
dealing with Nkurunziza's opposition voices is not a solution
and will lead to fear and chaos which will expand to other
sectors of society.

9. (SBU) When asked to share any specific recommendations
that the UPRONA party could give to President Nkurunziza,
Rubuka stated that the UPRONA party was in the midst of
creating something 'concrete', but first wanted to be assured
of the President's goodwill. Rubuka also emphasized that
President Nkurunziza should not be embarrassed to fight and
punish violators of human rights, corruption and
embezzlement. Rubuka added that Nkurunziza must begin to
appoint competent and appropriate people to positions of
influence and authority. In closing, Rubuka claimed that the
UPRONA party will remain available to any dialogue that
Nkurunziza offers for the future.

10. (SBU) The UPRONA party, the second largest in
opposition to President Nkurunziza and his ruling CNDD-FDD
party, is imploding, threatening their ability to advance
their causes in the current political arena. Late last week,
UPRONA party chairman Aloys Rubuka, along with UPRONA
hard-liner Terence Sinunguruza and other party supporters
effectively expelled Burundi First Vice-President and UPRONA
member Dr. Martin Nduwimana from the party. Rubuka and his
followers reasoned that Nduwimana consistently ignored UPRONA
party requests to consult the party before making any
decisions on pending executive legislation. Nduwimana's
supporters within the party are vehemently opposing the
dismissal, declaring that there is no basis or legality to
the action. The UPRONA party members further complained that
Nduwimana is now 'playing the same game' as the Nkurunziza
and his CNDD-FDD party rather than advancing the UPRONA party
platform. On August 27, Rubuka and Sinunguruza called for an
Executive Committee meeting to be held at UPRONA headquarters
to discuss, among other issues, Nduwimana's expulsion.
Nduwimana reportedly called for the national police to appear
at UPRONA party headquarters to prevent any violence from
occuring between the embattled and heated party factions.
Rubuka countered that Nduwimana called the police to prevent
expulsion supporters from attending the party's Executive
Committee meeting and to prevent UPRONA members from
listening to a planned press conference by chairman Rubuka,
both events meant to advance Nduwimana's dismissal.

11. (SBU) CNDD party President Leonard Nyangoma met with
Ambassador Moller on August 30 and presented his dire
assessment of the political landscape. Although Nyangoma
conceded forward progress at the level of the National
Assembly, he held serious doubts the sincerity of President
Nkurunziza's overture to dialogue with the political
opposition, opining that Nkurunziza is simply putting on a
show for the international community. Nyangoma questioned
the support that the Burundi president has within his inner
circle and with the National Assembly, claiming that 75% of
the Parliament is against Nkurunziza but will not say so
publicly for fear of reprisals. The CNDD president asserted
that Nkurunziza is being duped by his closest advisors who do
not want dialogue among the political rivals and are
accumulating embezzled wealth. In particular, Nyangoma named
CNDD-FDD party president Jeremie Ngendakumana; the head of
the National Intelligence Service (SNR), Aldophe
Nshimirimana; the Chief of Police, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni;
and the Minister of the Interior, Evariste Ndayishimiye as
members of Nkurunziza's circle of advisors. Nyangoma claims
that the government has a history of corruption and abuses,
and refuses to effectively address these issues through a
judicial process and a Truth and Reconciliation Committee,
for fear that powerful people may be implicated for past

12. (SBU) The CNDD party president described the security
sector as steadily worsening. Nyangoma considers the
relationship between the PALIPEHUTU-FNL and the government a
key component to stabilizing the peace in Burundi but
complained that Nkurunziza has apparently chosen an attitude
of 'war' over dialogue as a resolution to the problem with
the rebel faction. Nyangoma expressed concern over the steep
rise in criminality that has occured within the country and
personally feared for his own safety after reportedly having
his name associated with a rumored false coup plot planned
for the end of the month. Chief among Nyangoma's desires is
his reinstatement to the National Assembly. Nyangoma lost
his position in the Parliament in 2006 due to his extended
absence while in exile. The matter of his reinstatement has
not yet been decided by the Bureau of the National Assembly
but Nyangoma asserts that his reinstatement is a
pre-condition for any future dialogue with Nkurunziza's

13. (SBU) On August 28, Ambassador Moller, accompanied by
the Legal Attache (Legat) from Nairobi, Matteo Valles, and
Embassy Assistant Regional Security Officer (A/RSO), Erik
Olerud, called on Burundi's Chief of Police, Alain Guillaume
Bunyoni. In the course of her meetings to ask a wide variety
of local leaders for their assessment of Burundi's political
situation and how best to move forward, the Ambassador took
advantage of Legat Valles' presence to visit Bunyoni, widely
touted as on of the country's three or four most powerful
behind-the-scenes political players. Citing the excellent
performance of Burundi's first and only student in the U.S.
FBI Academy, Ambassador Moller told Bunyoni she had obtained
the slot for Burundi by asking for it from the Deputy
Director of the FBI during her trip to Washington in October
2006. She offered to make a request for an additional
position during her upcoming 2008 consultations and discussed
the desirability of police training. The A/RSO also
elaborated on International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA)
training opportunities in Botswana.

14. (SBU) The Ambassador asked Bunyoni how he saw the
political situation in Burundi, saying she had asked
important and influential persons throughout Burundian
society the same question. Bunyoni replied that he thought a
lack of dialogue between, especially, political leaders of
all parties is to blame. Bunyoni encouraged the political
players to have more meetings and interaction as a way to
move forward. Bunyoni then raised the subject of the
incident at the Ambassador's residence when members of the
national police surrounded the compound to prevent opposition
FRODEBU party spokesperson, Pancrace Cimpaye, from seeking
refuge. Bunyoni stated that an "administrative action" had
already been taken against the supervisor who ordered the
stakeout. The police chief hoped the Ambassador did not
believe that the order had come from "high up the chain of
command." Ambassador Moller assured the General she did not,
saying she felt most welcome in Burundi.

15. (SBU) On August 27, African Public Radio (APR)
announced that politicians close to President Nkurunziza
planned to stage a 'false coup' as a precursor to
establishing a state of emergency and eliminating political
opposition. The state of emergency would allow President
Nkurunziza to dissolve the National Assembly and dictate
legislation from the executive office, thereby eliminating
the political impasse that is inhibiting Burundi's economic
development. APR reported the news item as a 'public
courtesy' in the hopes that public awareness would dissuade
the coup plotters from exposing Burundi's people to more
violence. According to published reports, members of
CNDD-FDD would team with members of the Tutsi-majority
Burundi Armed Forces (FAB), a faction of the National Defense
Forces (FDN), to announce the bloodless overthrow of
Nkurunziza. Soon afterwards, members of the FDN loyal to
Nkurunziza would reinstate Nkurunziza as the legitimate
leader. Citing political instability, the plan called for
Nkurunziza to subsequently declare a state of emergency. At
the same time, key members of the political opposition and
members of civil society would be silenced and 'eliminated'
to mitigate any public backlash to Nkurunziza's seizure of
political autonomy. The false coup designers allegedly
planned the coup for the end of August. On August 29, the
General Prosecutor in Bujumbura delivered a warrant to the
Director of APF, Emmanuel Nsabimana, ordering his appearance
before the court, reportedly in connection with the broadcast
of the alleged false coup.

16. (SBU) Comment: President Nkurunziza's realization of the
gravity of the financial problems facing Burundi is clearly
the highlight of the week. The prevailing thought among
political and economic observers centered around Nkurunziza's
apparent lack of interest in addressing the various financial
scandals or the political stalemate which is hindering
economic progress. The cessation of IMF and WB budgetary
assistance would have disastrous effects on Burundi's
population and, arguably, lead to general strikes and
certainly public disturbances. Nkurunziza's sophisticated
and intelligent description of his actions to address the
country's woes bolsters the hope that the Burundi President
may finally be eschewing party bickering in favor of the
economic survival of his people. Equally impressive is
Nkurunziza's gesture of goodwill and dialogue towards his
political enemies. It is yet to be seen if this is all a
show for international observers or if his intentions to work
with UPRONA and FRODEBU are sincere. Nonetheless, this is a

step in the right direction. The progress of the major
opposition parties seems fraught with highs and lows and,
between UPRONA and FRODEBU, who appear to be moving in
opposite directions. FRODEBU's sudden cooperative stance and
willingness to form some sort of coalition to overcome the
political impasse, especially as it coincides with apparent
acts of initimidation and harassment by the ruling
government, shows a maturity in their approach that is
clearly a recent development. On the other hand, UPRONA, the
normally more passive of the two major opposition voices, is
in a clear meltdown as they struggle for internal power
rather than focusing on advancing their agenda with
Nkurunziza's administration. With his widely regarded
reputation as a major power-broker behind the executive
office, establishing a new line of communication with the
intelligent and well-educated Police Chief Bunyoni may prove
to be very valuable as well. On balance, despite the rise in
criminality, the struggle to lure the PALIPEHUTU-FNL back to
the ceasefire implementation, and the rumors of political
coups, the accomplishments of President Nkurunziza coupled
with the a new attitude by the once thorny FRODEBU party puts
Burundi on a more positive and upward footing. End Comment.

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