Benin, Burundi: Two sides of a coin


A few days before the UN Security Council slapped the president of Burundi’s wrist for the violence triggered by his appetite for power, another African leader’s decision went largely unnoticed.

On Wednesday, Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi said he would step down after two terms.

“To each, his convictions. Mine are to respectmy country’s constitution,” he said in Paris.

However, in step with a practice of African leaders since the 1960s — creating chaos galore — Yayi didn’t criticise his counterparts who have schemed “democratic means” to manufacture “My people have asked me” hogwash and changed constitutions to remain in power.

That’s probably what he had in mind when he cited countries’ “own specificities”.


Whatever these are, Burundi’s, and especially President Pierre Nkrunziza’s, can’t be right.

He has been in power since 2006. That followed a 13-year civil war, which ended with a deal leading to a law stipulating two consecutive terms.

Nkrunziza got a bonus: A pardon in the protracted negotiations.

The deaths and suffering of victims of his party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy or CNDD, and the military wing of Forces for the Defence of Democracy, FDD, became the price for peace.

Leaders of the then ruling party, the National Progress and Unity — Uprona — weren’t saints. Their victims, too, became the price for peace.

It happened when majority Hutus and minority Tutsis ethnicity passion as a tool to power was at its height, not necessarily so until Nkrunziza started stocking the fear of “they”.

The last 10 years have been “Peace in our time” considering Burundi’s past.


However, in April, Nkrunziza made up “My people have asked me” and got the highest court’s approval of a notion that he was entitled to another term because one of the two was through an act of parliament.

Nonsense! Two terms is just that! He was re-elected with a “manufactured” 70 per cent of votes in July.

Incidentally, before the ruling, four of the court’s judges fled.

Since then, Nkrunziza has “discovered” terrorists. At least 240 people have died, giving credence, as reports say, to violations of all human rights imaginable.

France, which seems to remember crimes committed in democracy’s name, asked the UN to authorise punitive measures to end the violence.

Political psychiatry aside, at 51, Nkrunziza is probably at a loss of a future.

Well, as a passionate avocado grower, he can rally Burundi’s peasantry to the cause; a born-again evangelist, sinners to convert, ad infitum.

As things stand, his convictions, seems bent on destroying the country; Yayi’s to have “eyes and see; ears and hear.” That counts to “my people who have really asked me”