Burundi: how sacked PM Bunyoni's coup plans were being monitored - report

    Regional leaders kept controversial former Burundian Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni on their radar as he planned a coup, officials said on Thursday morning.

    “Bunyoni accumulated a lot of wealth and had built a strong network of supporters in the internal security apparatus of Burundi,” said a highly placed official.

    “Bunyoni tried several times to build alliances with many military officials in Burundi and the region to create conditions for a coup against President Ndayishimiye. But Ndayishimiye briefed East African regional leaders who kept Bunyoni’s actions under radar,” the source added.

    Bunyoni was on Wednesday morning removed from the position of Prime Minister, a move that was endorsed by Parliament.

    Ndayishimiye had earlier warned government leaders planning a coup against him that they would “fail miserably.”

    Bunyoni, who previously served as Police chief and Minister of Internal Security, was replaced with General Gervais Ndirakobucuba – the Internal Affairs Minister.

    Sources told this investigative website that regional leaders quietly expressed their support to Ndayishimiye against Bunyoni’s moves.

    “We could not risk another conflict in the region,” said a well placed source who preferred anonymity to speak freely.

    The unfolding developments in Burundi evoke memories of the 2015 botched coup plot in Bujumbura.

    Army generals attempted to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza as he attended a regional meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

    However, Tanzania and Uganda opposed the coup attempt and helped Nkuruziza return to power.

    Then Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete provided a special force that escorted Nkurunziza from Dar es Salaam back home.

    The coup plot sparked a deadly gun battle in the capital Bujumbura and later a bloody internal conflict in which hundreds died.

    The turmoil left at least 1,200 dead and saw 400,000 flee the country.

    Burundi recently deployed over 600 elite forces to counter the Red Tabara movement in South Kivu, DRC.

    The Red Tabara rebels are backed by Burundian dissident generals who fled Bujumbura in 2015 after a failed coup attempt against President Nkurunziza.


    Ndayishimiye’s choice of Ndirakobucuba underscores his determination to defeat any internal insurrection.

    Ndirakobucuba is a former rebel commander and police commissioner. He served alongside Nkurunziza and Ndayishimiye in the war that ended in 2003.

    Prior to that, he was the Minister of Interior, Public Security, and Community Development. In 2015, Ndirakobucuba worked closely with Ndayishimiye and then intelligence chief, Gen Adolphe Nshimirimana to counter the dissident generals who tried to seize power from Nkurunziza. The western countries accused Ndirakobucuba of human rights violations before slapping sanctions on him.

    Ndayishimiye appointed him to a powerful position of Minister of Interior in 2020, making Ndirakobuca the most internationally sanctioned member of Burundi national government cabinet.

    He was seen as a de facto deputy prime minister or ‘supper minister’ with his overwhelming portfolio across three key ministries of Interior, Security, and Community Development in the Nkurunziza’s government, but was merged into a single ministry by Ndayishimiye and given to Ndirakobuca.


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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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