I never planned a coup, says Ndayizeye

Time of article published Dec 20, 2006

Share this article:

Bujumbura - Burundi's former president Domitien Ndayizeye on Tuesday denied charges in Bujumbura's High Court of plotting with six other people to overthrow the government and seize power.

Hundreds of people listened to loudspeakers outside the court as Ndayizeye, who led Burundi's transitional government from April 2003 until Nkurunziza's election victory last year, took to the stand.

"I never dreamed of organising a coup, in fact I had given up politics to do business and be with my family," he said, calling for proof that he had met the other suspects.

"It is I who integrated former rebels, including the actual head of state. That is I wanted Burundi to enjoy peace."

Police arrested Ndayizeye and six other people in August saying they had strong evidence they were plotting to kill President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The high-profile trial, which has prompted criticism from human rights groups, was resumed on Monday after being adjourned last week.

Diplomats have criticised Burundi's government, under pressure over its record on democracy and freedom of expression, for its handling of the alleged plot, which some fear may destabilise a country enjoying relative peace after years of war.

Critics say the plot was invented by the ruling party to quash dissent but the government and prosecutors deny this.

The prosecution, which says former rebel leader Alain Mugabarabona was the mastermind behind the plot, said Ndayizeye held meetings in May with the other suspects at his house.

"The accused Ndayizeye picked Alain Mugabarabona to lead the team, made up of military and civil people, to conduct the coup and it is Ndayizeye who had proposed a government to be led by Mugabarabona," prosecutor Gaudence Ndayizeye said.

He said Mugabarabona said this when questioned by intelligence services but the former rebel leader denies the allegations and says he was forced to implicate others under torture.

"I never met with Ndayizeye nor with the other accused to plot whatsoever," Mugabarabona said. "I ask the prosecution to no longer consider me their witness."

The court said in October the seven should be freed on bail, but prosecutors objected.

Breaking ranks with the rest of the government, Defence Minister Major-General Germain Niyoyankana denied the coup plot allegations on Sunday.

Share this article: