Gloves off as Burundi blames Belgium for genocide, aiding foiled coup

Grenade explosions are occurring almost on a daily basis in Bujumbura

Grenade explosions are occurring almost on a daily basis in Bujumbura

The Burundian government has officially claimed Belgium was behind the May 13 failed coup and that the former colonial power is to blame for all the problems the East African nation has been facing including sowing ethnic divisions that allegedly led to “the 1972 genocide.”

Following last week’s Belgian government’s decision to warn about 500 Belgian nationals to leave the conflict-stricken state as soon as possible or risk being caught up in the escalating violence, the government in Bujumbura has reacted angrily accusing Brussels of hosting all coup plotters, instigating the genocide, and cultivating hatred and divisions between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, the Belgian government says the allegations are “absurd.”

“We blame Belgium because all the plotters of the coup are in Belgium. The Belgians have given them accommodation and are looking after them. We blame them for the coup,” Willy Nyamitwe the government spokesman was quoted as saying Friday.

An infuriated Nyamitwe told Al Jazeera that “We blame them for the 1972 genocide that happened in this country. They are responsible for all the difficulties our country is facing.” He added that “Belgium divided Burundians into Hutu and Tutsis. They claim to be a friend of Burundi but their actions are unfriendly.”

In a statement, the ruling party in Burundi CNDD-FDD, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s party says it was “shocked” by  Belgium’s decision to advice citizens to evacuate the country. The party charged the former colonial power’s decision to abandon Burundi at its hour need was wrong and misguided given Belgium’s hand in the country’s tumultuous history.

“The Belgians did not only sow divisions in the hearts of Burundians… but on top of that they would whip Burundians in front of their families,” CNDD-FDD said in a fiery statement.

The worsening of the deadly violence in Burundi and the mounting death toll has prompted many experts, regional and international community to state the country is plunging into a catastrophic civil war or genocide.

Besides Belgium, the European Union (EU) has also advised “non-essential” staff to leave Burundi, and the United Nations Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB) closed its activities more than a month before schedule.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has dispatched a fact-finding mission to Burundi to assess how the global body could deploy peacekeeping troops.

Regional leaders particularly Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya have appealed to the authorities in Bujumbura to do everything and anything in their power to stop the bloodshed.

“Leaders are spending time killing people. Bodies of dead people are scattered everywhere. Refugees are wandering everywhere – women and children – and you want to call this politics? What kind of politics is this?” President Kagame said earlier this month.

President Kenyatta echoed Kagame’s sentiments this week saying in a statement “the buck stops with President Nkurunziza. That is why we are encouraging him to involve all parties in the search for a solution to the conflict.”

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is the current facilitator in the stalled talks but has not succeeded in bringing players in the conflict back to the negotiating table.

The turmoil, marked by daily grenade explosions and heavy gunfire has claimed nearly 300 lives and forced about 200,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.