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Forces républicaines du Burundi (Forebu)

After the announcement of the third term of President Nkurunziza, there were demonstrations that were suppressed in blood. The attempted coup d'etat by general Godefroid Niyombare, ill-prepared and poorly executed, broke the movement of events. Four of the leaders of the failed coup were sentenced to life in prison on 15 January 2016, while nine others were jailed for 30 years for their roles in the attempt to overthrow Nkurunziza. Niyombare, who was a Major General at the time of the attack, was never arrested.

Former rebel Godefroid Niyombare became the first ever Hutu chief of general staff of the army in April 2009, having fought as a commander in the CNDD-FDD rebel group (before it was demilitarised into a political party). He was involved in peace talks with the FNL rebel group. The 47-year-old had previously served as military chief of staff and as Burundi's Ambassador to Kenya.

Niyombare was nominated head of the Burundi Intelligence Service (Services de renseignements burundais, SNR) in late 2014, but was dismissed by Nkurunziza in February 2015 after it emerged that he had written a memo arguing against the President's controversial plans to run for a third term in office.

Young people had shown had no rest. Some were prosecuted, tortured, massacred. Some were able to join refugee camps, and others remained in Burundi. Some young people released weapons of police camps during this attempted coup, amid great chaos. These young people used these weapons to defend their neighborhoods. Gradually, a rebel movement was born. There had been many attacks without any movement claims these actions. Possibly hundreds of police officers were killed in these attacks.

Burundi’s rebels came together 23 December 2015 for the first time as a force aimed at ousting President Pierre Nkurunziza, after months of bloodshed in the troubled central African country. The rebels formed a force “to protect the population” and uphold the Arusha Agreement that paved the way to the end of the 1993-2006 civil war but which they say Nkurunziza has violated by his third term in power.

On 23 December 2015, colonel Edouard Nshimirimana, who was the Director of communications of the Burundian army, announced the creation of a rebel movement called the Republican forces of Burundi (FOREBU), from its name in French, Les Forces Republicaines du Burundi. Unlike other announcements of rebel movements, the colonel recorded a message that was sent to news agencies. In general, the head of a rebellion prompted the press in great secrecy to announce the birth of the rebel movement and also present the troops. Nshimirimana, a former army colonel turned rebel, said “Our goal is to drive out Nkurunziza by force to restore the Arusha accord and democracy”.

The new rebel group's main objective is to protect Burundians who were being killed because they are protesting the violation of the country's constitution by President Pierre Nkurunziza who extended his time in power, said Nshimirimana, who was in charge of military transmissions and communications before he defected in September.

The other objective of the new group is to protect the Arusha Agreement that limits Burundian presidents to two terms in office, said Nshimirimana. All forces against Nkurunziza are united under theRepublican Forces of Burundi, Nshimirimana said.

"We are calling on all Burundians who believe in the rule of law to join us," said Nshimirimana. The rebel force was behind the recent attacks on three military camps, where they captured enough weapons to fight Burundi's army, said Nshimirimana.

General Godefroid Niyombare, who led the failed coup against Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015, became the head of a newly created armed group, the Republican Forces of Burundi (Forces républicaines du Burundi, Forebu), the rebels announced 21 January 2016. Colonel Edouard Nshimirimana left Burundi when he disappeared from Bujumbura. He was in contact with general Niyombare. He would have joined general Niyombare. He made the announcement of the birth of the FOREBU in the presence of general Niyombare. Colonel Edouard Nshimirimana began under the orders of general Niyombare and was located in the same place as Niyombare.

A new element is the place of Colonel Simbandugo in General Niyombare's outfit. Colonel Simbandugo, very well known after the assassination of President Ndadaye, is an influential man among the army.

FOREBU had no base of combatants in Burundi. Those who thought that a reliable movement was born tempered their zeal. The movement was born on the paper and remained on paper. The only actions made were the attack on military camps.

If FOREBU was created to preempt other active movements on the ground, it lost legitimacy because of the absence of combatants. The rebels, who are fighting on the ground are in another rebel movement called Resistance for the Rule of Law in Burundi (Résistance pour un Etat de droit au Burundi, RED-Tabara or RED-T).

The question of a single command on the ground is often evoked. One who claimed to lead the troops because of his rank has no willingness to cooperate with others. There was a need for a single command with fighters are in a single movement.

For the Burundian President, it would be primarily a creation of the international media. "First it does not bother us, it is only amplified by the international media. But the country is calm. Although we know there may be groups of people who can kill and sow panic about the population. But the security defense forces have dismantled several factions within hours. And even it [the Forebu, ed] that formalizes only [now, ed] its existence but which already existed, is in line to be dismantled "said the chief adviser of President Nkurunziza, head of communication, Willy Nyamitwe." So this is not something that can worry nor the Burundian population nor the government, it is only amplified by the international media. It does not make us neither hot nor cold in Burundi. Burundians remain serene."

As for the authorities, it dates back to almost a year earlier. In the attack from Congo in Cibitoke province. There have been several attempts, the defense forces have always swept them in a few hours or days, say several officials. Within the security services, we say serene, even if we try to learn more about the organizational structure, composition and destructive capacity of this group.

FOREBU is said to be led by Godefroid Niyombare, a former intelligence chief and senior army officer behind an attempted coup in May 2015. "The Forebu is the name they give themselves today, but they are trying to destabilize the country for months," says a security source. "They send young people to death, without training, sometimes even without weapons, it is a crime," said the official.

On 26 March, Les Forces Republicaines du Burundi (FOREBU) claimed responsibility for the killing of Lieutenant Colonel Darius Ikurakure at a compound in Burundi's capital Bujumbura on 22 March. The statement warned that it is just the beginning.



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Page last modified: 03-04-2016 17:17:28 ZULU