- - Wednesday, May 18, 2011


President promises justice for political violence

BUJUMBURA — Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Wednesday promised that those responsible for recent political violence will soon face justice.

“I want to tell you that those responsible for the violence that we see today will soon answer for their actions,” Mr. Nkurunziza said in a speech broadcast in Kirundi, the country’s national language.

“We are going to put in place in the coming months a commission charged with investigating the violence that took place during the elections,” he said, referring to Burundi’s 2010 poll, won by the incumbent.

The president said “no one should think that they can escape justice or that they can seek refuge in Tanzania or the Democratic Republic of Congo and escape us.”

“We will follow you and bring you back with your arms tied behind your back,” Mr. Nkurunziza said, clearly referring to Agathon Rwasa, leader of the National Liberation Front, a former rebel group that agreed to disarm in 2009.

Mr. Rwasa went into hiding in July 2010 and has since been based in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For the second time in recent days, Mr. Nkurunziza, who is a member of the Hutu ethnic group, made reference to Burundi’s history of tribal tensions, a rarity from the president.

On May 15, Mr. Nkurunziza mentioned for the first time the “ostracism” that the Hutu majority - who make up 85 percent of the country’s 8.5 million people - felt under the previous regime.


Premier says peace is a priority

BANGUI — Bringing peace and security to the Central African Republic is a priority for the new government, formed after elections this year, Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera said Wednesday.

The country is wracked by coups and unrest, with the rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) having carried out a series of deadly attacks in recent months.

“The consolidation of peace and security remains a pillar of the government’s program,” Mr. Touadera told parliament.

“Without security and peace, we will never attain the objectives of development that we are ceaselessly pursuing,” he said, presenting his government’s program.

President Francois Bozize, who won re-election in January, reappointed Mr. Touadera as his prime minister last month.


U.N.: Sudan stages Darfur airstrikes

UNITED NATIONS — Sudanese government warplanes have staged new airstrikes in Darfur, prompting the United Nations to halt flights in the stricken region, U.N. officials said Wednesday.

The U.N. mission in Darfur, UNAMID, said in a statement that warplanes on Tuesday hit the village of Sukamir, which is near Kuma, about 60 miles north of the main Darfur city of El Fasher.

That air attack came two days after a strike in the south of the conflict-stricken region, where the United Nations says more than 300,000 people have died since an uprising started in 2003.

“The team will attempt to collect information on possible casualties and newly displaced persons,” according to the statement, which said UNAMID peacekeepers were trying to get Sukamir.

U.N. flights to the regions of Shangil Tobaya, Fanga Suk and neighboring regions in North Darfur have been suspended “due to government officials citing security concerns,” the mission said.

Meanwhile, restrictions on the movement of aid groups have led to the cancellation of a number of humanitarian missions in South Darfur, the mission added.

Sudanese warplanes on Sunday bombed the town of Labado and the village of Esheraya in southern Darfur, according to the U.N. Casualty numbers could not be given, as the mission had not been given access to the Labado region.

Ibrahim Gambari, the UNAMID head, expressed concern over the airstrikes.

Nongovernmental groups and U.N. agencies operating in south Sudan were told Tuesday by the Sudanese government that they would be limited to a zone of 10 miles around the town of Nyala, UNAMID said.

At least 300,000 people have been killed and 1.8 million people have fled their homes since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 between rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, the United Nations says. The government puts the death toll at 10,000.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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