May 24, 2024

Burundian rebels loyal to Pierre Nkurunziza released on Saturday three Members of Parliament of the Front pour la demoratie au Burundi (FRODEBU), whom they had kidnapped on 29 June in the eastern province of Ruyigi.

A sister of the Roman Catholic Episcopate in Ruyigi, who requested anonymity, told IRIN that the MPs were released at 12:30 pm (10:30 GMT).

“They were received by a delegate of the Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi, and immediately escorted by government soldiers to [the capital] Bujumbura,” she said.

She added that acting on a request by the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) rebels, no government representative was at the site of the release.

The Apostolic Nuncio had contacted the CNDD-FDD a few days after the abduction, following a request by family members of the kidnapped MPs, and the rebels had indicated that they did not want government presence during the release.

The released MPs are Pierre Barusasiyeko, the vice secretary-general of the parliament; Leonidas Ntibayazi, the head of the human rights commission at the parliament; and Fabien Bankinyakamwe Another legislator, Veronique Nizigama, who had initially been kidnapped alongside the trio, was released together with four other people on 2 July.

The rebel movement had accused the MPs of infiltrating an area under its control.

The release of the three MPs was one of the recommendations made during a summit of Burundi held in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam on 20 July, where the CNDD-FDD and the transitional government reaffirmed their commitment to peace, in particular their engagement to implement a ceasefire agreement signed on 2 December 2002.

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