Burundian Vice President, Bernard Busokoza has disappeared and is believed to be hiding in a Western embassy in Bujumbura, sources in Bujumbura tell AfroAmerica Network. The Burundian political leader disappeared after weeks of disagreements with the current Burundian President, Pierre Nkurunziza. The disagreements had become so divisive, that the supporters of the two leaders entrenched in their position, had recently started to air their differences in social medias and bars around Bujumbura, Bururi, and Gitega .
Divisions with Ethnic Undertones
In recent days, the discussions had turned to ethnic divisions: Pierre Nkurunziza is from the Hutu ethnic majority, whereas Bernard Busokoza is from the Tutsi minority. Until the late 1990’s, the Tutsi minority had managed to dominate all the government and non-government institutions and businesses. Regular violences, including systematic massacres of Hutu intellectuals have marked the history of Burundi, since the 1960’s. The first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated by Tutsi military officers in 1993. He was replaced by another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira. He was also assassinated in 1994, along with Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, allegedly by the Tutsis of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, now ruling Rwanda. These assassinations were followed by ethnic violences and massacres in both Burundi and Rwanda.
A civil war ensued in Burundi, pitting the Hutu armed group, CNDD-FDD, against the Tutsi government of UPRONA. Negotions among the two warring parties led to the Arusha Peace Agreement, brokered by Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.
The Arusha Agreement was aimed at finding a solution to the ethnic tensions among the two main Burundian ethnic groups: Hutu and Tutsi. Under the accord, the Government and the National Assembly were to be divided among the two groups, with the Hutu representing 60 percent and the Tutsi, 40 percent. The two groups were to equally share the Senate, the Army, and the Police.
Pierre Nkurunziza became the president in August 2005 and was reelected in 2010.
Bernard Busokoza was supposed to serve as the Tutsi counterbalance to the Hutu Pierre Nkurunziza. The next elections are scheduled in a bout a year and, according to the Buurndian constitution, Pierre Nkurunziza can not run again. But, the opposition, including Bernard Busokoza, have been suspecting Pierre Nkurunziza of seeking to modify the constitution so that he may run again. Pierre Nkurunziza’s supporters have been accusing Bernard Busokoza and his allies of seeking to undermine the government. Fearing for his life, according to his supporters, Bernard Busokoza has chosen to flee.
Collapse of Templates of Peace Among Ethnic Groups.
Following his disappearences, three of teh most influential Tutsi within the cabinet have resigned: Communications Minister Leocadie Nihaza, Local Development Minister Jean-Claude Ndihokubwayo, and Trade Minister Victoire Ndikumana. The situation is reminiscent of what has been happening in South Sudan, where the President Salva Kiir has sought to sideline his Vice-President, Riek Machar. Like in Burundi, the two South Sudanese top leaders hail from two competing ethnic groups: the Dinka and the Neur. The conflict between the two leaders has led to a bloody civil war and the death of tens of thousand civilians.
Both Burundi and South Sudan are very young democracies that were hailed as a model, to be followed by countries in the region where ethnic strife has led to the collapse of the nations and unprecedented human tragedies. The models had been put forward as a template for resolving ongoing ethnic conflicts in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Uganda.
The collapse of the agreement in the two countries may put a question mark on the capability of African leaders to implement such peace models.