Burundi Cancels Arrest Warrants for Alleged Coup Plotters
Burundi has lifted international arrest warrants against 15 exiled politicians accused of plotting a coup attempt against the government.
The announcement comes a matter of days before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits the country, after growing pressure from the international community to withdraw the warrants.
No reason for warrants
Burundi’s chief prosecutor Valentin Bagorukunda confirmed the withdrawal in a letter to the police:
“I have the honour of bringing to your attention that the international arrest warrants which were issued against the following persons have been cancelled,” it reads, according to AFP. “The reasons for the issuing of the warrants no longer exist,” Bagorukunda adds, without elaborating further.
The list of 15 mostly consists of politicians, civil society leaders and journalists accused of instigating protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza third term bid and orchestrating an attempted coup in May 2015.
Opposition group questions move
Opposition group CNARED, whose chairman was among those on the list of 15, has questioned the government’s motives following the announcement. In press release, the organisation claimed the decision was “only aimed to convince” UN officials – most notably Ban Ki-moon – that the government has good intentions.
“This action also intends to divert the attention of the European Union (EU), which is about to take sanctions against the Burundian government,” a CNARED spokesperson said.
The political situation in Burundi is complex and fragile after almost a year of violence, following President Nkurunziza’s announcement he would run for a third term in office. More than 400 people are reported to have been killed in a conflict that many fear could escalate to similar levels as the atrocities that took place in Rwanda in 1994.
By Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Eric Miller, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com) – Pierre Nkurunziza – World Economic Forum on Africa 2008, CC BY-SA 2.0