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Tanzania suspends granting of citizenship to Burundian refugees

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday ordered relevant authorities in the east African nation to stop granting citizenship to Burundian refugees.

President Magufuli made the directive shortly after he had held talks with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in a border town of Ngara in Kagera region, said a statement from the Directorate of Presidential Communication at State House.

President Magufuli ordered the country’s Minister for Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba, to ensure that no more Burundian refugees were granted Tanzanian citizenship. He did not give reasons for his action.

In 2014, Tanzania announced that it was in the process of granting citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees who had fled their country in 1972.

The Burundian refugees lived in three settlements in Tabora and Katavi regions in western Tanzania. By 2007, they had become largely self-reliant and were taxpaying members of society. In addition to subsistence crops, the refugees produced tobacco and coffee for export, contributing to the development of these remote regions.

Nchemba had briefed the two leaders that 5,000 Burundian out of 247,000 straying in western Tanzanian camps had made applications to return to their tiny central African country saying the country was now peaceful.

“We have been encouraged to learn that some of the Burundian refugees have started going back home without the assistance from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,” said President Magufuli.

Speaking at the same occasion, President Nkurunziza called on the Burundian refugees living in Tanzania to go back home and rebuild the country.

“I wholeheartedly thank Tanzanians for their generosity to accommodate Burundian refugees,” said Nkurunziza.

The Burundian leader called for more economic integration between the two countries saying Tanzanians were welcome to do business in Burundi.

In June this year, the UN refugee agency said Tanzania remained the largest host of Burundian refugees.

“Tanzania has become host to more than 241,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi since the outbreak of violence in 2015, making it the largest host of Burundian refugees in the region,” said the UNHCR in a report to mark the World Refugee Day.

Two years after the outbreak of violence in Burundi, children account for more than 60 percent of Burundian new arrivals in Tanzania, said the report.

“Significant numbers of new arrivals continue to flee to the country, with 44,487 having arrived in the first five months of 2017,” it said.

Tanzania is currently home to more than 315,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are hosted in three refugee camps of Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli, which face severe pressure.



Burundi president makes first foreign trip since failed coup plot in 2015

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza Thursday drove to Ngara District in western Tanzania where he met Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli, the first foreign trip since a failed coup plot in 2015, the president’s office said.

“The state visit carried out by the Burundian president in Tanzania is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Tanzania and Burundi,” the Burundian president’s office said in a press release.

Nkurunziza was accompanied by several ministers including the foreign minister, the security minister, the East African Community affairs minister, the finance minister and the defense minister.

The president’s office added that on the sidelines of the visit, the president is expected to hold other meetings.

This is Nkurunziza’s first foreign trip since a failed coup plot staged on May 13, 2015 when he was in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to attend a regional summit.

Burundi plunged into a crisis since April 2015 when Burundian President Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term in violation of the national constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement.

His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even the failed coup on May 13, 2015.

More than 500 people in Burundi have been killed and some 400,000 people fled to neighboring countries mostly Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda since the outbreak of the crisis. Currently, Tanzania is the largest host of Burundi refugees.


Southern African bloc disqualifies Burundi request for membership

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania(Xinhua) -- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Thursday disqualified a request by Burundi to join the regional body because “it’s house was still not in order.”

Augustine Mahiga, the chairperson of the SADC Ministerial Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, said the political situation in Burundi was still volatile to allow the country to join the regional body.

Burundi has been experiencing political crises since violence broke out two years ago after President Pierre Nkurunziza took the presidency for the third term which had been condemned by as unconstitutional by the opposition, provoking months of protests.

However, Mahiga, who is also Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, said SADC has accepted a request by Comoro to join the bloc.

“So far, only Comoro has qualified for the entry, we shall take their request to the heads of state summit slated for next month in Pretoria, South Africa,” said Mahiga.


Burundi launches first doctoral school

BUJUMBURA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Burundian Second Vice President Joseph Butore has launched the country’s first doctoral school at the University of Burundi.

Speaking at a ceremony on the Kiriri campus of the university Thursday, Butore said the doctoral school will provide programs on social sciences and life sciences, among other subjects.

The launch of the doctoral school is very significant for the University of Burundi and for the country’s endeavors to promote scientific research, he said.

The Burundian government first considered the establishment of a doctoral school in 2011, he added, saying the country’s head of state signed a decree on the matter in 2015.

The University of Burundi is the only public university in the east African country. It is largely financed with government funds.


Gunmen ambush passenger minibus in western Burundi

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Gunmen killed a minibus driver in an ambush in western Burundi on Saturday nigh, police said Sunday.

“Four criminals armed with Kalashnikov guns ambushed the passenger minibus at Kagunuzi in Buganda district in Cibitoke province around 21:30 (19:30 GMT),” Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said.

“They shot dead the driver and seriously injured another passenger who was evacuated to one of the hospitals in the capital Bujumbura,” said the spokesman.

The minibus had only the two persons on board, said Nkurikiye, adding that security forces intervened and exchanged gunshots with the gunmen and those “gunshots burned” the passenger minibus.

He said before ambushing the passenger minibus, those gunmen had ambushed a motorcycle, but the motorcyclist was unhurt.

Security has been occasionally disrupted with thefts and ambushes on the road linking Bujumbura to Cibitoke and in villages located near Burundi’s Rukoko forest reserve in Gihanga on the same road.

Thefts and ambushes are often mounted by gunmen who then retreat to the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Nine suspects arrested over killing Italian surgeon in Burundi

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Nine persons have been arrested for their alleged involvement in killing an Italian surgeon at his house in the Burundian capital Bujumbura earlier this month, the country’s attorney general has said.

The Italian surgeon Francesco de Simone was found dead on July 3 at his house at Kiriri residential area in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. Police said he had been stabbed.

“Nine suspects have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the assassination of the Italian national who worked at Kira Hospital. After the assassination of Francesco de Simone, a police search was operated at the victim’s house in Kiriri residential area and some documents were found at his house,” Burundian Attorney General Sylvestre Nyandwi said in a statement Monday.

According to Nyandwi, investigations have revealed that Diane Persson Ciza, the Italian’s concubine, is among the “main suspects” in the killing of the Italian surgeon.

“Some fake documents showed that Diane Persson Ciza was the consul of Sweden in Burundi, but after talking to the foreign ministry, it was revealed that no consul of Sweden was in Burundi,” Nyandwi said.

He added that investigations are still underway to elucidate circumstances on the assassination of Francesco de Simone. 


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