Burundi's unturned stones

06 October 2010 by Stef Vandeginste

With a successfully completed peace process followed by general elections in the summer of 2010, the case of Burundi seemingly contradicted the conventional wisdom that there can be no peace without justice. In fact, despite a rhetorical commitment to establishing transitional justice mechanisms, no action has so far been undertaken to end impunity for past human rights crimes.

It was hoped that the 2010 elections might consolidate the achievements in terms of peace, security and stability and pave the way for a transitional justice process. However, hope transformed into fear soon after the start of the electoral process.

In the early hours of June 23rd 2010, Agathon Rwasa went into hiding and has not been seen since. He was the leader of Burundi’s last active rebel movement, The Party for the Liberation of the Hutu people, which laid down arms in 2009. His voluntary disappearance is directly related to the defeat of his political party, the National Liberation Forces (FNL) in the communal elections of May 24th. The FNL and several other opposition parties denounced what they considered to be massive electoral fraud and decided to boycott the presidential and legislative elections.

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