Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

It is just over three years since Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza died in office aged 55. It was a great shock to the nation, though he was already preparing to step down and hand over power to Evariste Ndayishimiye.

In his first interview with the BBC, his successor shows how he has tried to mend fences in the international arena.

Unlike Mr Nkurunziza, who was hostile to the media and banned the BBC at one stage, Mr Ndayishimiye was relaxed and chatty with the BBC interviewers from our Swahili and Great Lakes services.

As current chair of the East African Community, he spoke with confidence about the recent deployment of the regional force to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it had had more success than UN peacekeepers in stabilising the rebel-plagued area.

He said relations with neighbouring Rwanda had improved greatly – they had plummeted to an all-time low in 2015 when its neighbour was accused of backing a coup plot to unseat Nkurunziza – and said talks were ongoing with Kigali to get the suspected plotters extradited.

He did not budge, however, on the issue of the UN and human rights, saying he would not reverse Nkurunziza’s decision to ban the UN human rights rapporteur to Burundi.

Though he did invite the UN Human Rights Council to come and discuss what aspects of human rights it felt needed to be addressed.

By Joy

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