Former Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye has said that he was threatened by the coordinator of the ruling party's youth wing, the Imbonerakure. But has vowed not to flee the country.
The threat came shortly after an interview he gave Radio Isanganiro, a local radio station in the capital Bujumbura, in which he urged the party's youth not to interfere in the Rwandan-Burundian conflict. Last month investigators from the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said the Imbonerakure are now considered a militia and have been engaged in torture, rape, disappearances and murder 'fueled by hate speech' from officials. DW spoke to the former president to find out more on the threats
DW: In what context did you call on the youth not interfere with the ongoing political relationship between Rwanda and Burundi?
Domitien Ndayizeye: I was asked about my opinion regarding the conflict between Burundi and Rwanda and the activity of the youth [Imbonerakure]. I repeat the crisis between the two countries is in the first place a highly political one. It was transferred to the youth and this is a bad sign. The youth do not understand the geopolitics of our region: its advantages or disadvantages.
What threats did you receive?
They said they would "work on me" which means that they will fabricate stories on me, and maybe organize my murder. This is the language they use when they plan to get rid of somebody. They will undertake something to make me disappear. I am aware of this, and I will take the necessary measures against it. But even if I die, it will not delete what I have said: I am convinced that the youth should not follow this path.
Do you take those threats seriously?
Yes of course. Because I know what the Imbonerakure are capable of doing. I'm aware that they are responsible for the disappearances of many people. You know, I was exiled for 20 years from this country, and I'm not ready to leave the country again. If I have to die, I prefer to die in my homeland. But I will be careful, and I have taken some measures.
What type of measures have you taken?
There are many steps. Look, I am talking to you and the international community. I am talking to the people of Burundi as well. I think that they will inform me, if they know about a plan to eliminate me or make me disappear. I am also taking personal measures: I have several security guards. If I need to increase their number, I will do so. There are many possibilities to avoid the threats, and I will be calling personally the one who threatened me to find out whether he is serious about it.
Domitien Ndayizeye served as president of Burundi from 2003 to 2005.
Interview: Nafissa Mamadou