Tanzania says ‘missing’ Burundi ex-PM Bunyoni not in the country
Tanzania on Friday denied any knowledge of the presence of former Burundi prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni in the country as the manhunt for him continued at home.
“The government has no information of Mr Bunyoni or any of his alleged accomplices having sought refuge in Tanzania. If there’s anyone who knows their exact whereabouts in Tanzania, our security organs should be notified,” Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Stergomena Tax told The EastAfrican.
Burundi authorities on Wednesday launched an official search for Mr Bunyoni on the back of reports that he had escaped from his Bujumbura home under threat of detention.
He was sacked as prime minister last September amid reports of a possible coup plot against President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s government. A former police chief, he previously served as Internal Security Minister under the previous administration of late president Pierre Nkurunziza. Mr Bunyoni had been prime minister for two years.
Wanted for questioning
It remains unclear exactly why Mr Bunyoni is being sought after Interior Affairs Minister Martin Niteretse announced that prosecutors only wanted to question him “over some suspicious cases.” Reports said he had vanished without a trace after receiving advance warning of his impending arrest. A senior military official told AFP the authorities had arrested a senior police officer for allegedly telling Mr Bunyoni about the operation.
Speculation has been rife all week that he secretly crossed the border into Tanzania with the intention of seeking temporary asylum.
There were unconfirmed reports of another coup attempt in Burundi, which led to a swoop on suspects, including the former premier.
There was speculation that the chief of Internal Intelligence, Alfred Museremu, had also been detained over Mr Bunyoni’s disappearance.
“Museremu was not arrested, but he was relieved of his duties; it just came at the time when the former prime minister is wanted,” Mr Niteretse said.
He, however, told reporters a police colonel had been taken into custody but did not elaborate on the reasons for the arrest.
“Desire Uwamahoro (chief of the special anti-riot unit, I heard that he is being held at the prosecutor general’s office, and I don’t know what it’s about” he said.
Additional reporting by Moses Havyarimana