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EXCLUSIVE: Burundi: Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye Frontrunner to Succeed Nkurunziza

Burundi’s ruling party, CNDD-FDD, is set to endorse the political organisation’s Secretary General, Evariste Ndayishimiye to succeed President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Born in 1968 in the province of Gitega, Ndayishimiye has been serving as the party’s Secretary General since August 20, 2016.

The CNDD-FDD national congress opens on January 26, 2020, to hold discussions on the future of Burundi including selecting a flag-bearer for the 2020 presidential elections.

President Pierre Nkurunziza says he will not stand in the next elections.

Parliament has since agreed to offer Nkurunziza a lavish villa, $500,000 and a decent monthly salary for a comfortable retirement.

Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Bill elevating Nkurunziza’s status to “Paramount Leader and Champion of Patriotism” as he prepares to pave way for a new president.

The move is likely to cultivate ground for a stable future in Burundi as the country emerges from its 2015 political crisis.

ChimpReports is now reliably informed that majority of CNDD-FDD leaders are rooting for Ndayishimiye to take over from Nkurunziza.

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A battle hardened general, Ndayishimiye succeeded Pascal Nyabenda, the current President of the National Assembly of Burundi.

This was just a year after the attempted coup against President Nkurunziza in 2015.

Ndayishimiye promised then the ruling party would work closely with all stakeholders to return peace and stability to the country.

Many say Ndayishimiye, a hugely influential officer, is a loyal associate of Nkurunziza.

He sits at the centre of power in Gitega.

Multiple officials say Ndayishimiye was close to powerful generals – Alain Guillaume Bunyoni (Minister of Security) and the assassinated intelligence chief, Adolphe Nshimirimana.

Ndayishimiye conducts his work behind the scenes and boasts a clean public service record.

The 52-year-old is among the first recruits of the Defense Forces for Democracy (FDD), an armed wing of CNDD-FDD during the civil war in the early 2000s.

CNDD was the political wing of the organization founded in 1994, a year after the assassination of the first democratically elected President, Melchior Ndadaye.

In 1995, Ndayishimiye narrowly survived the systematic elimination of Hutu students at the University of Burundi by Tutsi extremists.

He later found himself in the bush where he took up arms and later commanded several battles before being elevated to head the organisation’s department of policy planning.

After the integration of the National Defence Force, Ndayishimiye was appointed Chief Military Logistics before serving as Military Assistant to President Nkurunziza.

Between 2006 and 2007, Ndayishimiye served as Minister of the Interior and Public Security and later head of the National Olympic Committee.

He also served as Nkurunziza’s Principal Private Secretary before his election as the ruling party’s Secretary General.

Elections  

The United Nations Security Council recently praised the Burundi Government for initiating preparatory processes for the upcoming elections and welcomed Nkurunziza’s commitment not to stand as a candidate.

The country was also commended for its continued stable security situation and the Government’s decision to finance upcoming elections with the national budget.

However, some UN officials expressed concern over the situation of nearly 1.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance; thousands of refugees living in the region and alleged human rights violations.

Burundi has in recent years turned into a playground for foreign powers eyeing the country’s vast mineral deposits including copper, cobalt, nickel, feldspar, phosphate rock, quartzite, and rare reserves of uranium.

Russia has since called on all foreign powers to uphold Burundi’s sovereignty and rejected foreign interference in that country’s affairs — especially its elections.

However, United States maintains Burundi’s planned 2020 elections are the key to its future, insisting, “They must be free and fair, and fully include civil society members, refugees and opposition party members.  Government should take tangible steps to those ends and allow international observers unfettered access.”

Burundian authorities say they will continue to prepare for the 2020 elections, having adopted and now abiding by the electoral timetable.

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