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Ousted Chairman of Ruling Party in Burundi Protests His Removal


The former chairman of Burundi's ruling party is protesting his ouster, saying that the move is illegal. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Hussein Radjabu says the meeting on Wednesday that resulted in his removal as chairman of the ruling party, known as CNDD-FDD, was illegally organized and attended.

"That congress is illegal. No one is allowed to call a congress and I informed before that congress taking place that it is organized in illegality [and I warned before it began that it was taking place illegally]. And during that congress, many who entered in that meeting room are not [were not] allowed to participate in a congress," he said.

Radjabu says the vote by party members to replace him with Jeremy Ngendakumana was premature, as Radjabu had agreed to hold a meeting later this month to discuss growing rifts in the party and other issues.

The embattled former leader did not say whether or not he planned to challenge the vote or take any other follow-up action.

Serious rifts within the ruling party have been growing in recent months, with ministers last month petitioning President Pierre Nkurunziza to address the conflicts.

Chief among the disagreements has been Radjabu's leadership style and decision-making. He has been linked to a number of controversies, including the recent attempt to prosecute former President Domitien Ndayizeye for plotting a coup. Last month, the charge against the former president was dropped. Radjabu is also blamed for the deteriorating human rights situation in Burundi, where many human rights activists and members of the political opposition have been arrested.

The former chairman of the ruling party is not getting any support from President Nkurunziza, who is quoted in press reports as saying that he believes Radjabu's ouster is "a step in the right direction."

Many Burundians complain that the government, which was formed as part of a peace process to bring an end to more than a decade of civil war, is repressive, authoritarian, and corrupt.

A civil war erupted in 1993 and over the years of fighting an estimated 300,000 people were killed. The peace process that began in 2000 resulted in a series of transitional governments and, finally, democratically held elections in 2005.