The role of the members of the former royal family (Ganwas or Baganwas) in the political arena, including the existence of a movement that supports the return of the Burundian monarchy, and, if this is the case, the treatment of monarchists by government authorities, the Tutsis and the Hutus; and whether the "Ganwas" have facial features that distinguish them from the Hutus and the Tutsis (2000-April 2003) [BDI41016.FE]

No current information on the role of the members of the former Burundian royal family (Ganwas) or on the existence of a monarchist movement in Burundi could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

A source published in 1999, however, quoting a representative of the "Great Lakes Ganwa Organisation," remarked that the Ganwas in Burundi were calling for political authorities to recognize them as a distinct ethnic group in the country, not for the restoration of the monarchy (IRIN 30 Apr. 1999).

Two sources, published in 2001 and 2002, pointed out the existence in Burundi of a monarchist party called the "Parliamentary Monarchist Party" (Parti monarchiste parlementaire, PMP), which was founded in 2001 (United Kingdom Oct. 2002; Net Press 2 Oct. 2002; ibid. 3 Aug. 2001). In a 3 August 2001 article, Net Press named Léopold Biha, André Muhirwa, Charles Mbanzamihigo, Henry Kana, Godefroy Kamatari, Ildéphonse Rwigemere Mboneko and Guillaume Ruzoviyo as being the seven founding members of the PMP, who, in a letter to the Bujumbura municipal authorities, requested [translation] "the right to hold public meetings to establish this emerging party's policy-making body, as well as its by-laws and platform." The same source stated that the PMP was [translation] "the [second] monarchist party to exist in Burundi (at least, if it became a registered party) after Mathias Hitimana's PRP, which was first known as the 'Parliamentary Royalist Party' (Parti royaliste parlementaire), but later adopted the name of the 'People's Reconciliation Party' (Parti pour la réconciliation du people)" (Net Press 3 Aug. 2001).

The Africa Confidential 13 September 2002 issue, however, described Mathias Hitimana, the former Minister of Mines and Energy and a member of the PRP, as one of the "extremist Tutsi politicians" (6). Another source specified that President Buyoya dismissed Mathias Hitimana, leader of the PRP, from his ministerial position in July 2002 because he was suspected of financing and arming the Sans échec militia in the mid-1990s (United Kingdom Oct. 2002).

During a 23 April 2003 telephone interview, a journalist from Net Press in Bujumbura stated that government authorities had not yet recognized the PMP as a legal party and that there are rifts within the party. He explained that two factions exist: one led by Godefroy Kamatari and another by Guillaume Ruzoviyo-both of whom are fighting for leadership of the PMP (Net Press 23 Apr. 2003).

In another 23 April 2003 telephone interview, the executive secretary of the Burundian Human Rights League (Ligue burundaise des droits de l'homme, ITEKA), affiliated with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), indicated that his organization had never been informed of any case in which a person had suffered ill-treatment at the hands of the government authorities or members of the Hutu or Tutsi ethnic groups merely for being a monarchist. The ITEKA representative further explained that descendents of the royal family (Ganwas) could not be distinguished from other Burundian citizens by their name or facial features (ITEKA 23 Apr. 2003; see also BDI36479.E of 15 March 2001).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Africa Confidential [London]. 13 September 2002. Vol. 43, no. 18. "Burundi: Peace Talk, But Is It Real?"

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). 30 April 1999. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "IRIN Update no. 661 for Central and Eastern Africa." http://www.reliefweb.int [Accessed 22 Apr. 2003]

Ligue burundaise des droits de l'homme (ITEKA) [Bujumbura]. 23 April 2003. Telephone interview with the executive secretary.

Net Press [Bujumbura]. 23 April 2003. Telephone interview with a journalist.

_____. 2 October 2002. "Burundi-politique : 'les représentants des Baganwa' réagissent aux propos de M. Godefroid Kamatari." http://www.netpress.bi/ts/021002.htm [Accessed 24 Apr. 2003]

_____. 3 August 2001. "Burundi-politique : vers la création d'un parti monarchiste au Burundi." http://www.netpress.bi/ts/030801.htm [Accessed 22 Apr. 2003]

United Kingdom. October 2002. Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). Burundi Assessment. http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/default.asp?PageId=2840 [Accessed 22 Apr. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted


Africa Confidential 2001-March 2003

Africa Research Bulletin 2001-February 2003

IRB Databases

Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent 2001-April 2003

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge] 2001-2002

LEXIS/NEXIS

Resource Centre country file. Burundi

Internet sites, including:

Africatime

Allafrica

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

In-Burundi.net

Ligue burundaise des droits de l'homme (ITEKA)

Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA)

Nouvelles du Burundi

ReliefWeb