Former Burundian Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, once a powerful figure in the country’s politics, appeared in court on September 28th, facing allegations of undermining national security and insulting the president. Bunyoni, who held the position of Prime Minister from June 2020 until his dismissal in September 2022, is currently on trial before the Supreme Court.
The dismissal came shortly after President Evariste Ndayishimiye raised concerns about a potential coup d’état. Bunyoni’s removal from office saw Interior Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca taking over as Prime Minister.
Previously regarded as the de facto number two in the regime and a prominent figure among the generals working behind the scenes, Bunyoni was arrested in April, held in Bujumbura, and later transferred to Gitega.
The trial commenced within the confines of Gitega central prison, with General Bunyoni and six co-defendants facing the judiciary. Witnesses reported that Bunyoni appeared in the customary green uniform worn by Burundian prisoners and expressed concerns about the conditions of his detention. He highlighted his limited access to sunlight and the challenges posed by his health condition, advocating for his release on bail, a decision the court is set to make within 48 hours.
Bunyoni faces a range of charges, including undermining internal security, disrupting the national economy, personal enrichment, illegal possession of weapons, and insulting the President.
An ally of the late former president Pierre Nkurunziza, Bunyoni had wielded significant influence within the ruling CNDD-FDD party.
Despite some signs of political change since President Evariste Ndayishimiye assumed office in June 2020, international observers have noted persistent human rights concerns in Burundi. A UN commission of inquiry reported a “disastrous” human rights situation in the country as of September 2021.
Burundi, located in the Great Lakes region and landlocked, ranks as the world’s poorest country in terms of GDP per capita, according to the World Bank.