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Africa

Burundi needs 'reconciliation commission' says former president

As Burundi marks Memorial Day, commemorating the genocide against Hutus in 1972, former president Ndayizeye spoke to DW about his views on the celebration and reconciliation.

Today Burundi marks 44 years since the massacre of over 100,000 Hutus. The country finds itself in the middle of another political crisis. After repeated failed attempts, talks have been scheduled for next week in Tanzania. Last April, President Pierre Nkurunziza decision to seek another third term sparked nation-wide protests. The violence continues to this day, despite Nkurunziza's disputed victory at the polls.

International observers fear that the conflict might escalate into an ethnic war between Tutsis and Hutus. The latest bloodshed comes as the ICC launches a probe into Burundi's year of violence.

DW: Do you think this commemoration day will really help the country in the reconciliation process?

Domitien Ndayizeye: No. It all depends on what the government aims to achieve by such action. We have made it clear how important it is, that an investigation into what happened from independence until today, be carried out by a reconciliation commission. It will help us to understand and categorize different crimes committed since independence. Unfortunately, that has not taken place.

The government's action of putting in place a day of commemoration knowing fully well that Burundi is a country divided along ethinic lines will be futile. In my opinion, I believe that it is not the moment for commemoration. We must set up a reconciliation commission that works without external influence and in a favourable condition.

As the former president of Burundi, you were actively involved in the reconciliation process. Do you have message for the event today ?

I am aware that the government of Burundi is behind the commemoration. The government should also look into the happenings by taking action that will support not only the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa ethnic groups but everybody living in Burundi. In other words, the government must respect the rights of the people. We need this urgently in Burundi.

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