Assassination Attempt Against Burundian Presidential Spokesperson Willy Nyamitwe: Rwandan Government Operatives Accused

Burundian Presidential Spokesperson Willy Nyamitwe

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"Based on initial investigations, Rwandan government operatives are involved in the failed assassination attempt against Mr Willy Nyamitwe, " said  Police Officer Pierre Nkurikiye, the  Public Information Officer of the National Police of Burundi  and the  Ministry of Public Security,  in Bujumbura, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016. According to Pierre Nkurikiye, who posted the information on his Twitter account, the attempt against Willy Nyamitwe left 1 police officer and security guard dead, a security guard and driver injured. Willy Nyamitwe was slightly injured. 

Willy Nyamitwe is the Senior Advisor to the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, in charge of media, information and communication. Following the failed assassination,

Burundian Security services have arrested three suspects: a Burundian colonel and two corporals.

Rwandan Government has yet to comment on the accusations, but has denied similar allegations in the past, including a UN Security Council report accusing Rwandan military of supporting insurgency in Burundi. 

Since mid-2015,  Burundi has been accusing Rwanda of funding army officers and training troops to launch an insurgency and conduct a coup against Mr Nkurunziza. Relations between Rwandan and Burundian government have reached low levels since mid-2015,  after a decade of close personal ties between the Rwandan General Paul Kagame and Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza (Rwandan Government Fueling Flames in Burundi and Breaking International Conventions, Says Refugees International).

In December 2015,  Refugees International, an NGO focusing on issues of refugees worldwide, found that "civilian and humanitarian character of asylum in Rwanda is being undermined. Specifically, refugees from Burundi claim they are being recruited into non-state armed groups as part of a systematic campaign involving both Burundian and Rwandan nationals."  

In  May 2015, Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial a third presidential term. Oppositions accuse him of breaking the constitution, while his supporters argue that the third term was actually a second term allowed by the Burundian constitution.

"Always the same criminals based in Kigali, same targets, same modus operandi, and always God on our side. Rwanda's prominent role in the current crisis in Burundi  is undeniable, " Pierre Nkurikiye added. 

According to sources in Bujumbura, Burundi, the Burundian security services were expecting a planned assassination attempt, after they learned of an alleged meeting among two Rwandan high ranking officers within the Rwandan Department of Military Intelligence and Burundian opposition leaders based in Belgium, in mid-October 2016. 

 The Burundian government has been urging  Belgian government to hand over an opposition activist, Pacifique Nininahazwe, whom the government  accuses of planning  attacks. Mr Nininahazwe has consistently denied any involvement.

In August 2015, a  leading Burundian general and close aide to President Pierre Nkurunziza, General Adolphe Nshimirimana,  was killed in a rocket attack on his car in the capital Bujumbura, in a drive-by shooting.  General Adolphe Nshimirimana, was widely seen as  de facto Burundi internal security chief and the president's effective deputy.

In April 2016, Brigadier General Athanase Kararuza, a military adviser in the office of Burundi's vice president,  and his wife and daughter were killed I Bujumbura. 

In July 2016, a Burundian MP in the East African parliament, Hafsa Mossi, was gunned down in Bujumbura in an attack the government said was directed by Rwanda.