Wearing the hat of chair, Regional Inter-Burundi Dialogue, Uganda’s president insists his counterpart must play by the rules.
Excerpts of Nkurunziza letter
Your Excellency Mr President,
I would like to convey to you greetings and best wishes from the Burundian people and acknowledge receipt of your transmittal letter accompanying the Report of the Facilitator and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa.
The Government of the Republic of Burundi is grateful to the International Community in general and, in particular, to the East African Community for the efforts, the time and the means made to assist Burundi, especially when we were fighting against an insurrection, an attempt to overthrow democratically elected institutions and against terrorism some troublemakers were trying to establish in my country, unfortunately with the complicity and support of a Member State of the Community, Rwanda.
I am particularly grateful for your decision to include the Burundi-Rwanda conflict on the agenda of the November 2018 Summit.
However, the Burundi-Rwanda issue is so serious that it should be treated as a single point.
The Government of the Republic of Burundi also welcomes the understanding and the decision of the Heads of States to postpone the November 30″ Summit as we had requested.
As far as the Facilitator’s Report is concerned, Burundi has demonstrated its commitment to the values of democracy through an inclusive dialogue, by supporting, as of September 2015, an inter-Burundian dialogue process, under the aegis of the National Commission for Inter-Burundian Dialogue (CNDI) across the country and by sending delegates to all sessions organised by the EAC-led Facilitation, with the exception of the fifth and last ones scheduled on dates coinciding with a period of national mourning.
The Facilitator states that “the political situation in Burundi remains a matter of concern”.
This is contrary to reality because he and his team and the regional organisations such as the ICGLR, the AU, the Pan African Parliament, the Association of African Ombudsmen: and the UN through the Peace building Commission, know this and confirmed it in their report after their visit throughout the country.
Apart from the perpetrators of the coup of May 2015 and their accomplices who fled justice after plunging Burundi into mourning, all the political parties and civil society organisations are working on the Burundian territory in an environment of democratic openness.
The holding of the referendum in 2018 should not be considered as a “fait accompli” because it is the will of the Burundian people and is within the sovereignty of States, and it is recognized by conventions, charters and international treaties.
In addition, the Facilitation Team never questioned the legitimacy of the Burundian institutions elected in 2015 for a five year term (2015-2020) as well as their duty and responsibility to implement what they were elected for.
Contrary to what is said in the report, the Government wishes to make it clear that there has not yet been a question of revising the Arusha Agreement or its constituent elements.
From 2000 to 2018, the Arusha Agreement reached the age of maturity, 18 years old.
All that was provided for by this Agreement has been achieved. We can no longer go back and question the step already taken with this Agreement because it would be a coup d’état to all its gains.
In addition, all the provisions of the Arusha Agreement were respected and the bodies recognised by it were all put in place.
Besides, the only body authorized to evaluate the implementation of the Arusha Agreement is the Burundian Senate, any other interference would be to overthrow this institution elected by the people.
It is wrong to consider the month of April 2015 as a starting point for the difficulties that Burundi has gone through.
The uprising, the coup attempt of May 13, 2015, the armed attacks from Rwanda (January 2015) and (July 2015) as well as the terrorist attacks in some neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, represent the culmination of the refusal of democracy since 2010.
It is all the more surprising that this Report to be endorsed by the EAC ignores the aggression of Burundi by Rwanda.
Burundi and other observers have shown that young Burundians, including children, were recruited from refugee camps and enlisted in criminal gang units and death squads for the purpose of destabilizing Burundi.
In addition to the fact that Rwanda has prepared and supervised the coup d’état of 2015, the coup perpetrators and other criminals have taken up residence in Rwanda where they receive support to attack Burundi crossing the Rwanda-Burundian border or via the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as getting assistance and travel documents to enable them to circulate in the region and even in Europe.
Concerning the Report’s indication of the issues to be resolved before the 2020 elections, citing the deployment of foreign elements to replace the Republican forces in protecting the citizens, the consecration of impunity by cancelling arrest warrants against coup perpetrators or imprisoned elements and by amnestying them: would you accept, Excellency Mr. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, to sit down with coup perpetrators on the run, if such a situation happened in Your country?
Could their Excellencies Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magufuli accept to violate the laws of their respective countries by leaving unpunished troublemakers who have attacked democratically elected institutions and by inviting them on a table of dialogue?
It is therefore very urgent for the East African Community to focus on the real problem that is jeopardising peace and security throughout Burundi.
It is Rwanda, a State Party to the Treaty establishing the East African Community, which is not at its first attempt to destabilise its neighbour Burundi.
Your Excellency Mr President, I would like to recommend the organisation of an extraordinary Summit whose agenda will be to clear the issue of open conflict between Burundi and Rwanda.
At the end of this extraordinary Summit, the Facilitation will then be able to organise the final round of dialogue with Burundian political partners to share the roadmap already agreed on and signed by all political parties, leading up to the 2020 elections.
— Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi.
I have received your letter and I thank you so much for it, especially for its candor in expressing your real sentiments of your excellency and your party the CNDI.
I have not yet, of course, consulted the other EAC members in responding to your letter.
That will be done on the 27th of December, 2018, when we have our ordinary session, if the summit agrees.
However, in the interim, I will, with equal condor, give your excellency my tentative response to some of the pillar points you have raised in your letter in only two capacities: the President of Uganda and the chairperson of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue, ever since it started with Mwalimu Nyerere on the 19th of June, 1998, in Mwanza.
First and foremost, your letter does not bring out the fact that, after a very long period of suffering, starting with the assassination of Rwangasore on the 13th of October, 1961, the basis of resolving the chronic Burundi problem was laid by the Arusha accord signed on the 28th of August, 2000.
The accord was guaranteed by the EAC. In fact, it is the EAC against the obstructions of the Western Powers in particular, that was part of the decisive pressure that forced the Buyoya Government to accept the Agreement.
Yes, your party, the CNDI, was engaged in an armed struggle, which, no doubt, was part of the pressure of the Buyoya Tutsi Government.
Nevertheless, the CNDI did not capture the Bujumbara by arms. It, along with other exiles, came to Bunjumbura by negotiations led by the EAC.
Therefore, the EAC intervened in the internal affairs of Burundi to bring bring about “Democracy and security for all” in the place of the Tutsi monopoly of power in the interests of “group security” as Mwalimu summarised the issues at Mwanza.
Burundi experienced peace until October, 2015 when some arguments about term limits, etc., started.
That is when the EAC, again, tried to find out what was happening.
Therefore, your line of saying that the EAC is uprising from the sovereignty of the Burundian people by wanting to know the latest of the evolution of the political situation in Burundi, may not be correct.
There is the historic treaty of Arusha which the region guaranteed. What does “guarantee” mean? It means that you take interest to be sure that what was agreed is on course.
Respecting inter-state agreements, even when they impact internal situations, may not be interference.
It is only what was agreed. However, for one party to declare the end of the interaction unilaterally may not be correct.
It may also undermine the credibility of both the internal and regional actors. Who, then, will take seriously the guarantees by the region in the future in other situations?
The other pillar issue in your letter is the issue of accountability and pace building – punishing the mistake makers and not tolerating impunity.
You even asked me if I could sit down with the coup – makers and terrorists, etc. the answer is, actually, “yes”.
Uganda would have never been saved if the revolutionary forces led by myself for the last 53 years (Student Movements, Fronasa, NRM, etc.) had not both fought against and negotiated with the coup-makers, terrorists, etc. the first coup was in 1966, led by Obote; the second was in 1971, led by Amin; the third was the rigged elections of 1980; etc.
The actors in most of these events or their followers are now part of our government.
That is how Uganda was stabilised. However, in the case of Burundi, the facilitator did not insist on the coup-makers sitting in the negotiations.
What, then, is the problem? I negotiated with Kony who had killed thousands, cut off people’s ears so that they do not hear his atrocities, cut off their lips so that they have no mouths with which to report his activities, etc. it is him, in the end, that refused to sign.
That is when we went after him in Congo and CAR.
I totally agree that the tension between Rwanda and Burundi should be discussed. This is the logic of the common market.
The common market means that the free flow of goods and services and the movement of persons. How will this happen sustainably if there is tension and suspicion among member states?
Issue of principle
Your Excellency, the happy news that Burundi is totally peaceful, is a very pleasant phenomenon.
It does not, however, answer the issue of principle. The principles are that the chronic problem of Burundi was ended by the inter-Burundian Arusha agreement guaranteed by the region.
It is a matter of elementary courtesy and wise strategy for the principal internal actor to interact with guarantors and some skeptical elements within Burundi to be sure that events are on course.
Finally, although it was not part of your letter, I must bring it to your attention that accountability is not only for the people in the government.
Even liberation movements must be held accountable. A revolutionary Movement is distinguished from a terrorist organisation, not only by the course it pursues which must be a just one, but also by the methods it uses.
— Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda/Chairperson, Regional Inter-Burundi Dialogue
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.