Leaders

Pierre Nkurunziza

Pierre Nkurunziza,

(born December 18, 1963, Bujumbura, Burundi), Burundian educator and former leader of a Hutu rebel group. He became president of Burundi in 2005.
Pierre Nkurunziza

Nkurunziza was raised in the province of Ngozi in northern Burundi, the son of a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father. His father had served as governor of two provinces before being killed in 1972 during a wave of ethnic violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 Hutus and more than 10,000 Tutsis. Nkurunziza graduated from the University of Burundi in Bujumbura in 1990 with a degree in physical education. He went on to teach high school and also served as an assistant lecturer at the university.

In 1993 civil war erupted between Hutu rebel groups and the Tutsi-dominated army. Nkurunziza narrowly avoided death during a 1995 army attack on the university campus that killed some 200 people. After his escape Nkurunziza became active in the conflict, joining the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (Forces pour la Défense de Démocratie; FDD), which was the armed wing of a Hutu exile group, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy (Conseil National pour la Défense de Démocratie; CNDD). In 1998 a Burundian court sentenced him in absentia to death for his rebel activities.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the CNDD-FDD split into several factions, with Nkurunziza assuming chairmanship of one faction in 2001. In that capacity Nkurunziza headed negotiations that culminated in his faction of the CNDD-FDD signing a peace accord with Pres. Domitien Ndayizeye in 2003. As part of the agreement, Nkurunziza received immunity from prosecution for war crimes. He later joined Ndayizeye’s cabinet as minister of good governance in November 2004.

The CNDD-FDD became an official political party in 2005. Under Nkurunziza’s leadership, the party won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections held in July. In preparation for the upcoming presidential election in Parliament, Nkurunziza was asked to be the CNDD-FDD’s candidate; he accepted the nomination and resigned as party chairman. In the ensuing vote by members of Parliament, Nkurunziza, the only candidate, won 151 of the 162 ballots cast and was elected president on August 19, 2005. He was formally sworn into office on August 25.

Nkurunziza faced the daunting challenge of maintaining peace and stability in the war-ravaged country. In part to allay fears among many Tutsi of Hutu-dominated rule, he actively recruited Tutsi members to the CNDD-FDD. His new cabinet, named less than a week after he took office, included 11 Hutu and 9 Tutsi, virtually all of whom were serving in government posts for the first time. Seven of the new ministers were women. 

Nkurunziza also made overtures to the National Liberation Forces (Forces National de la Libération; FLN), the last Hutu rebel group remaining outside the peace process. His first attempt to renew the peace talks was rejected by the FLN in September 2005, but he brokered a tentative cease-fire with the group during talks held in Tanzania in 2006. The truce was soon ignored, however, and intermittent violence resumed. No substantive agreement was reached until May 2008, when the FLN convened with Nkurunziza in Bujumbura and signed another cease-fire. In December of that year, Nkurunziza met with FNL leader Agathon Rwasa and signed a definitive peace agreement.

In addition to negotiating the fraught political terrain, Nkurunziza was confronted by massive economic problems. Agricultural production, which makes up the majority of Burundi’s exports, had dwindled. In the face of ever-shifting tides of violence, few people were able to remain sedentary long enough to harvest crops. Nkurunziza began recruiting foreign capital soon after his election, raising $2 billion to invest in agriculture. In November 2006 Nkurunziza successfully ushered Burundi into the East African Community economic bloc and in April 2007 aided in the reformation of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, a trade organization including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. With the aid of World Bank funds, he also spearheaded infrastructure projects aimed at making water and electricity more accessible.

These tentative movements toward progress were undercut by accusations from human rights groups that Nkurunziza’s administration refused to acknowledge dissent and persecuted journalists critical of its policies. These concerns persisted in June 2010, as Nkurunziza was reelected with more than 90 percent of the vote following the withdrawal of all six of his challengers. The campaign and election proceedings were marred by violence, contributing to a markedly low voter turnout.

Despite the domestic and international condemnation over Nkurunziza’s plan to stand for a third term, he remained resolute in his decision. The dates of the presidential and parliamentary polls were repeatedly delayed, however, because of the ongoing violence within the country and criticism that the political climate was not conducive for elections, as well as international pressure to postpone the polls. Opposition groups, citing unfavourable conditions in the country, announced that they were boycotting the elections. Amid considerable unrest, Nkurunziza won a third term on July 21, 2015.
From Britannica

Originaire de la Province de Ngozi au nord du Burundi, le Président Pierre Nkurunziza est né le 19 décembre 1964 et a pris pour épouse Madame Denise Bucumi en 1994. Ils ont cinq enfants dont trois garçons et deux filles. Son père Eustache Ngabisha, élu membre du parlement burundais en 1965, a été tué lors du Génocide de 1972.

En 1994 Pierre Nkurunziza était Professeur Assistant à l’Université du Burundi, quand le pays faisait face une guerre civile suite à l’assassinat du premier Président Démocratiquement élu, Melchior Ndadaye. Après avoir échappé de justesse à un assassinat par des bandes armées, Pierre Nkurunziza prit le chemin du maquis pour rejoindre les combattants de la rébellion du Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Force de Défense de la Démocratie (Cndd-Fdd) et ne tardera pas à être promu aux plus hautes responsabilités au sein de ce mouvement, jusqu’à en devenir le Leader charismatique, surnommé Muhuza (médiateur), pour son attachement à la cohésion sociale et à la résolution pacifique des conflits. C’est ainsi qu’il conduisit sa délégation aux négociations de paix, en Afrique du Sud et en Tanzanie avec le Gouvernement de transition du Burundi, un processus qui aboutira à la signature d’un accord global de cessez-le-feu et à un accord de partage de pouvoir en 2003, au Burundi, mettant ainsi fin à une décennie de guerre civile très sanglante.

Rentré du maquis avec des milliers d’ex-rebelles qui furent intégrés dans les corps de défense et de sécurité nouvellement créées, au Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza devint Ministre d’Etat chargé de la Bonne Gouvernance et fut présenté par le Cndd-Fdd, devenu alors parti politique agréé, comme candidat à la présidentielle de 2005. Il fut élu par un Collège électoral de Parlementaires Président de la République du Burundi.

La politique du nouveau Chef d’Etat est axée sur la reconstruction, la réconciliation, la relance économique et la stabilité politique. Il a été réélu à la tête du pays, cette fois-ci au suffrage universel direct, d’abord aux élections de 2010 et à celles de 2015. Pierre Nkurunziza a initié les travaux communautaires exécutés tous les samedi et a instauré la gratuité de la scolarisation primaire, des soins de santé pour les enfants de moins de cinq ans et de l’accouchement. Sous la Présidence de Pierre Nkurunziza, le Burundi est devenu un acteur très important au niveau international dans les mécanismes de maintien ou d’imposition de la paix, comme en Somalie, en République Centrafricaine, au Soudan, en Côte d’ivoire et ailleurs.

Même si les élections de 2010 et celles de 2015, au Burundi, ont vu renaître des mouvements de contestation électorale, comme en 1993, le Président Pierre Nkurunziza a pris les devants, sillonnant tout le pays dans une campagne de sensibilisation, et a pu rétablir la paix et la stabilité politique.

Pierre Nkurunziza a fait du Sport un instrument de réconciliation et son engagement pour la paix et la cohésion sociale lui a déjà valu des distinctions honorifiques sur les quatre coins de la planète.
www.presidence.gov.bi

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