Burundi: Notorious militia chief named head of state broadcaster

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Burundi has appointed the leader of the ruling party’s notorious youth league militia as head of its state-run broadcaster.

By presidential decree, President Pierre Nkurunziza has appointed Eric Nshimirimana, leader of the Imbonerakure youth league, as director-general of the National Radio Television of Burundi (RTNB). Opposition groups have criticised the move, insisting it poses a threat to press freedoms in the troubled nation.

Militia chief to lead state broadcaster

Imbonerakure is the youth wing of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD ruling party, led by Eric Nshimirimana. The youth militia has been accused of grave human rights violations since political turmoil broke out in 2015, following Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would run for a third term as president.

In its Burundi, Events of 2018 report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) described some of the atrocities carried out by the armed militia under the rule of Nshimirimana.

“Burundi’s security services and members of the Imbonerakure, the ruling party youth league, carried out widespread human rights abuses throughout 2018, including summary executions, rapes, abductions, beatings, and intimidation of suspected political opponents,” the report said. “Many of the worst abuses occurred in the lead-up to a May 17 constitutional referendum, which enables President Pierre Nkurunziza to potentially remain in power until 2034.”

HRW also noted the deterioration of press freedoms in Burundi – a key issue opposition groups say will only get worse with the appointment of Nshimirimana as the head of state broadcaster, the National Radio Television of Burundi (RTNB).

“The country’s once vibrant civil society and media landscape has been decimated since the crisis began in April 2015,” HRW said in its report.

Featured image: By Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Eric Miller, mailto:emiller@iafrica.com emiller@iafrica.com) – Pierre Nkurunziza – World Economic Forum on Africa 2008, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5685472

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.