EAC protests Burundi roughing up of Secretary General Sezibera

The EAC Secretariat is protesting the manhandling of Secretary General Richard Sezibera by Burundi security officers on October 28 while he was in the country on official duty.

In a letter dated October 29 from the EAC to the Permanent Secretary in Burundi’s Ministry of External Relations and International Co-operation, the Secretariat protests the breach of protocol and disrespectful treatment of Dr Sezibera at the Burundi Senate while in the company of Uganda Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is the special envoy of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and the EAC’s appointed mediator in the Burundian crisis.

“The Secretary General was in Bujumbura at the EAC Summit appointed mediation. The EAC condemns the aggressive act by Burundian security officers to prevent the secretary general from conducting official community business,” reads the letter.

In another letter addressed to the Burundi president, his two vice presidents and the minister of external affairs, the president of the country’s Senate Reverin Ndikuriyo informed them of the diplomatic incident.

“At the time of the meeting, Dr Sezibera was not on the list of delegates led by Mr Kiyonga. He tried to force his way into the meeting room, and security services of the Senate stopped him with all the courtesies that are in keeping with his title,” stated the letter.

“The Burundi Senate asks you to address the chairman-in-office of the EAC on the diplomatic note of protest against the violation of diplomatic process.”

Burundi EAC Minister Léontine Nzeyimana said the issue was the breach of protocol by Dr Sezibera.

“Any visit by the EAC Secretary General to Burundi has to be organised by the EAC ministry. But Dr Sezibera never informed me that he was coming,” said Ms Nzeyimana.

Dr Sezibera said that he was part of the EAC mediation team.

“This is not the first time I did so we did the same when President Museveni visited the country and subsequently delegated Mr Kiyonga for the task. My visit was both official and known,” said Dr Sezibera.

“There was absolutely no breach of protocol. I was duly picked up from my hotel and driven to the meeting room, but was subsequently blocked at the door,” he added.