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Former Burundi Prime Minister Stands Trial

Former Burundi Prime Minister Stands Trial

Former prime minister of Burundi Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni went on trial on Thursday charged with undermining national security and insulting the president, a judicial source and witnesses said.

Bunyoni was prime minister from mid-2020 but was fired in a high-level political purge in September 2022. This was days after President Evariste Ndayishimiye had warned of a “coup” plot against him.

A former police chief and minister of internal security, Bunyoni was seen as the head of a cabal of military leaders known as “the generals” who wielded the true political power in Burundi.

He was arrested in April this year in Burundi’s economic capital Bujumbura on the eve of his 51st birthday. He is currently being detained in the political capital Gitega.

The trial began before the country’s supreme court sitting in session at the prison.

“General Bunyoni appeared with his six co-defendants in a specially designed room in the central prison of Gitega this morning… in front of around 50 people including one of his daughters,” a judicial source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses told AFP that Bunyoni wore the green uniform typically worn by prisoners in Burundi at the hearing.

A judicial source added that he denounced the “terrible conditions” of his solitary confinement. He said he was only allowed 30 minutes of “exposure” to the sun, according to the source.

“I have serious type B diabetes, if an incident happened to me, I would not be able to (survive)… This is because it requires the presence of two managers to open the three doors that (open) my cell,” Bunyoni told the court, asking for bail.

The former premier also faces charges of “undermining the internal security of the state, undermining the proper functioning of the national economy and illegal enrichment.

Bunyoni is also accused of illegal possession of weapons and insulting the president.

A close ally of former president Pierre Nkurunziza, Bunyoni was an influential senior figure in the ruling CNDD-FDD party.

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