August 27, 2005


Ex-rebel becomes Burundi leader (BBC, 8/27/05)

Former Burundi rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn in as president, marking the end of 12 years of war which has left 300,000 dead.

He becomes the first leader chosen through democratic means since 1993.

It marks the end of a five-year peace process designed to end the conflict between Hutu rebels and an army led by the Tutsi minority.

Power will be shared under the peace deal with Tutsis guaranteed a share of power and government jobs.

"I pledge to fight all ideology and acts of genocide and exclusion, to promote and defend the individual and collective rights and freedoms of persons and of the citizen," he said in the Kirundi language in a ceremony attended by several African heads of state.

Burundi's born-again ex-rebel leader (Charles Bigirimana, BBC)
Former rebel leader and born-again Christian Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn in as Burundi's new president. [...]

He belongs to the younger generation of Hutu leaders, whose political and military careers started after the killing of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye by disgruntled soldiers in 1993.

Before joining the rebels, he was a teacher, not known for his political activities.

"I was pushed into rebellion by the inter-ethnic massacres that were taking place at the university in 1995," he said on Wednesday.

In the bush, he kept a low profile, despite his rise to take over the FDD leadership.

He joined the FDD after narrowly escaping death in combat in 2001 in the central province of Gitega.

Injured in battle and with the army in hot pursuit, he says he saw those who had gone to kill him were eaten by crocodiles near the Maragarazi river, in central Burundi.

He says the experience is proof that he was pre-destined to lead the FDD.

The son of a former governor, he was born in December 1963 in the northern province of Ngozi. His father was Catholic and his mother Anglican.

Now a born-again Protestant, he is described by those close to him as "religious, cool and a gentleman devoid of religious fundamentalism".

He says he is against tribalism and fought for peace, justice and security for all.

"When I am in church, I pray and devote myself exclusively to God. And when I am in politics, I do the opposite while at the same time acknowledging that God is everywhere," he once said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 27, 2005 12:00 AM

That last quote of Mr. Ukurunziza makes me want to say, "noooooooooooooo!" How can he be a "fighter, defender and promoter" for all that's just and honorable in his nation if his works are not teathered to his faith in God? Answer...he can't and it won't happen.

Posted by: Dave W. at August 28, 2005 2:59 AM