Burundi’s ruling party youth – “Imbonerakure”, described as militia by the UN, on Saturday demonstrated to show strength, in their first major demonstration in the capital Bujumbura.
They came running in thousands to the streets of Bujumbura chanting songs praising President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Residents estimate they are over 5000.
This confirms once again that the political space is locked in Burundi because no other party, especially the opposition, can protest apart from them
The procession was escorted by Police and ended in the center-east of Bujumbura, a zone totally acquired by the opposition where thousands protested against President Nkurunziza, in 2015.
In an interview, Léonce Ngendakumana, the vice president of the opposition Frodebu party said, “The CNDD-FDD party now reigns with terror, and most people are obliged. This confirms once again that the political space is locked in Burundi because no other party, especially the opposition, can protest apart from them”.
Several embassies sent warning to their nationals on Friday, not to be where “Imbonerakure” (which means ‘those who see from afar’ in Kirundi) would stage the next day.
The group, along with the Police, Secret Service and the Army is accused of grave human rights violations committed two years ago, including rape.
The UN and NGOs report that hundreds of forced disappearance cases and torture have led to the exile of more than 400,000 Burundians.
The country has remained in political crisis since Nkuruzinza’s candidature and re-election in 2015.