Burundi’s Nkurunziza issues 5-day ultimatum for voluntary disarmament

President Pierre Nkurunziza addressing the nation on the security situation

President Pierre Nkurunziza addressing the nation on the security situation

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has yet again set a five-day ultimatum to owners of illegal arms to surrender them to security forces, failure of which police is will utilize all means at their disposal to retrieve them.

In his address to nation Monday evening, President Nkurunziza urged Burundians with unregistered and illegal weapons to hand them over to the authorities in five days or risk severe consequences.

“The government is giving you five days, counting from this November 02 to 07, to abandon this criminality. Whoever will fail to abide by this call until November 07 2015 will be considered as a criminal targeted by anti-terrorism laws, and will be combatted as enemy of the country,” Nkurunziza said in his “last warning’’ to those bearing weapons illegally.

President Nkurunziza assured Burundians ready to surrender their weapons within this five-day window they will not face any charges.

Nkurunziza has however, given his police forces and the military to use force to “withdraw weapons from the wrong hands” and restore peace and stability upon the expiration of this latest deadline.

“To security forces, we order you to do all what you can to withdraw all weapons remaining in the wrong hands and prosecute all those who spread security. From now (November 7) on, you are allowed to use all legally authorized means in restoring and maintaining peace and security,” he said in his address adding “you are allowed to utilize all possible tools in your hands that will enable you to detect any weapon wherever it may be hidden until security is totally restored.”

Ever since his August 20 inauguration, President Nkurunziza has issued several deadlines to restore stability and peace in Burundi, these deadlines have lapsed with no improvement in the security situation on the ground especially in the capital Bujumbura where grenade explosions and gunfire occur nearly on daily basis claiming human life and forcing residents to live in continuous fear.

Likewise, the president has been setting deadlines for the public to report their weapons or face stern measures but they have expired and weapons are still ubiquitous in Burundi particularly in the opposition strongholds across Bujumbura.

The president’s latest deadline comes days after the country’s President of the Senate, Révérien Ndikuriyo, warned of an impending crackdown to pacify the “troubled” neighbourhoods.

The police have been engaging in fierce searches in opposition areas hunting for weapons but on many occasions the security officials themselves have come under fire, and have died or been injured and the fights. The armed groups are fighting back.

The neighborhood of Musaga in the South of the capital, along with the central Bwiza and Nyakabiga, together with Ngagara, Cibitoke and Mutakura in the north of Bujumbura, have essentially become battlefields between police and armed men against the police and the president’s third term bid.

Despite the deteriorating political and security situation in Burundi, President Nkurunziza pointed out in his address 92% of the country was peaceful and commended his security forces for restoring order.
He attributed the prevailing insecurity in some parts of the country to “weapons still in the wrong hands.”