Burundi: Former President’s Widow Asks for Recognition and Justice for Her Husband

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The widow of former Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira, who was tragically killed alongside his Rwandan counterpart in 1994, asks for an international investigation into the death of her husband and wants him to be recognized as a National Hero for Peace.

In a letter to President Nkurunziza signed on 6 April, at the 23rd anniversary of her husband’s death, Sylvana Mpabwanayo-Ntaryamira suggested that the government of Burundi requests the United Nations to set up an impartial international commission that “would find out the facts and identify the authors and the engineers of the heinous act”. Findings of the investigation would serve as the basis for justice.

Mpabwanayo also asked President Nkurunziza to elevate her deceased husband to the the status of a National Hero for Peace in recognition of his bravery and his unwavering commitment to his country.

She says that when her husband accepted to serve as president, “he knew it was a perilous mission that could end his life like his predecessor’s given the situation [the country was in]”.

Furthermore, she says, Ntaryamira sacrificed “his life on his way back from a mission for peace and reconciliation for his people”.

President Ntaryamira was chosen by the National Assembly to succeed President Melchior Ndadaye who had been assassinated on 21 October 1993 after only three months in office. Ntaryamira presidency was shorter than his predecessor’s. Having entered office on 5 February 1994, he died on 6 April as he returned from the Summit of Heads of States on peace and security in the Great Lakes Region.

As his presidential jet had broken down, he traveled in the jet of President Juvenal Havyarimana of Rwanda. As they were landing on the International Airport of Kigali (Rwanda), the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile. All people on board including the two presidents, two Burundian ministers and two French pilots perished in the plane.

The truth on the authors and engineers of the incident is yet to come to light. Philip Nzobonariba, the Spokesman for the Government of Burundi, has recently said the case of the death of President Ntaryamira is complex as it involves three countries (Burundi, Rwanda and France) and “needs to be dealt with as meticulously as his death was planned”.

He said Burundi will act on the basis of the findings of the investigations the other countries have already started.

For him, Rwanda has the primary responsibility to lead the path to the discovery of the truth since the murder was committed on its soil.

©Alleastafrica and Iwacu

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