Burundi protestors appear in court, EU calls for dialogue

Protestors being rounded up by the Burundian Police

Protestors being rounded up by the Burundian Police

A group of 40 protestors, mostly youths who were arrested as they demonstrated against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term were presented to a Bujumbura court Wednesday.

This is the first batch of protestors to appear before the courts of law since protests broke out in April when the ruling party CNDD-FDD nominated Nkurunziza be the party’s flag bearer in the forthcoming presidential poll.

The protestors were mainly charged for involvement in the planning and/or execution of anti-3rd term protests, illegal possession of weapons, and involvement into rebellion.

Several protestor-detainees have alleged to have undergone torture by agents of the National Intelligence Bureau where they were initially held before being transferred to the central prison in the capital Bujumbura.

These human rights violation allegations have been confirmed by their lawyers and human rights groups.

The court is expected to issue a ruling within 48 hours on whether or not the protestors will be release on bail.

According to the Association for the promotion of Human Rights and Detainees, (APRODH), around 500 protestors are held in the Bujumbura Mpimba prison.

The association says hundreds of other protestors are scattered in several prisons across the country.

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, the Chairman of APRODH says the number of protestors behind bars keeps going up as the police are still arresting protestors on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, the European Union has joined the African union and the East African Community  to call on the Burundian government to constructively engage in talks between all stakeholders to resolve the current crisis peacefully.

In a statement issued Wednesday by the Spokespersons of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, the European Union backs earlier recommendations made by the African Union and the East African Community.

“The decisions on the situation in Burundi adopted by the recent Summit of the African Union in Johannesburg are an indispensable roadmap for ending the crisis in the country. Only a consensual political solution can take the country out of the stalemate and preserve security and democracy for all Burundians,” reads the statement.

The European Union echoes the African Union and the East African Community in urging quick resumption of dialogue between all political actors in the crisis that has rocked the Central African nation since April. “It is important that all actors comply with the conditions defined in the call. The European Union is ready to mobilize all necessary means and mechanisms for this cause through the Cotonou Agreement.” the statement concludes.

The talks bringing together all stakeholders have failed to produce results as the government and the opposition and civil society organisations have failed to reach a middle ground on almost all issues.

The dialogue was dealt another blow recently as the United Nations Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, and Mediator on the talks, Said Djinnit stepped aside after the opposition and civil society accused him of pro-government bias, and wrote to the UN Secretary General to relieve him of his Mediator duties.