Burundi rebels unveil outfit to topple Nkurunziza

Col. Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Military has assured citizens of maximum protection just in case of a rebel attack

Col. Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Military Spokesman has assured citizens of maximum protection just in case of a rebel attack

After operating in the shadows for months, opposition in Burundi has announced a rebel force; Republic Forces of Burundi (FOREBU) to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The rebels say latest escalation of deadly violence and the fact the Bujumbura government is strongly opposed to the proposed African Union troop deployment, have left them no option but to create FOREBU.

According to the leaders of the nascent force, it plans to protect civilian population and the uphold the country’s Arusha Peace Accord, the year 2000 deal that led to the long and deadly civil war.

“Our goal is to drive out Nkurunziza by force to restore the Arusha accord and democracy,” Col. Edward Nshimirimana told AFP. Nshimirimana used to serve in the Burundian military.

Ever since the May 13 failed coup, there has been persistent social media chatter about a rebel force but the government has always dismissed the reports as baseless and enemy propaganda.

It is not clear whether FOREBU includes some of the renegade generals who masterminded the attempted coup in May, in the wake of the disastrous failure, the foiled coup leaders claimed responsibility of the strings of grenade attacks that had kept the  capital Bujumbura on edge.

In an interview with Kenya Television Network (KTN) Sunday July 5, Gen. Edouard Ngendakumana, one of the leaders of the attempted coup, said their disastrous failure in the May attempted coup has motivated them to resort to grenade attacks as a last ditch effort to force President  Nkurunziza out of power.

“After we saw that we could not succeed, it was necessary to keep fighting to force Nkurunziza to resign and drop the third term bid, but when we saw that he is not going to resign we organized ourselves to keep fighting him, and that’s why these actions (grenade attacks) have been going on,” he said. Ngendakumana has since been sanctioned by the European Union.

Whenever reports of a rebellion have surfaced, the Burundian military has assured Burundians of total protection.

“from our intelligence, there is practically no sign of a possible attack. However, in case anyone would be plotting an attack, it’s their business, but we’d like to tell them that all defense and security forces are fully prepared to protect the country,” Col. Gaspard Baratuza, Burundi Military Spokesman said in June.

Also this July, the military revealed it had repulsed a rebel attack from neighbouring Rwanda killing 31 fighters and capturing dozens.

Following the worsening the deadly violence in Bujumbura, and the government disapproval of the proposed African Union initiative to send 5000 peacekeepers to Burundi to help protect civilians, regional leaders have announced resumption of dialogue between players in the conflict.

Uganda, whose leader Yoweri Museveni is facilitator to the on and off talks to end the violence, has announced the government of Burundi, the opposition and other stakeholders are due to meet in the Ugandan capital, Kampala in bid to try and resolve their differences on the negotiating table.