Sacked former Burundi PM denied bail

Burundi Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni was sacked as prime minister in 2022.  By TCHANDROU NITANGA (AFP/File)
Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni was sacked as prime minister in 2022. By TCHANDROU NITANGA (AFP/File)

A court in Burundi has denied bail to the country's powerful former prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, who is on trial accused of undermining national security and insulting the president, sources close to the case told AFP on Thursday.

Bunyoni was prime minister from mid-2020 but was fired in a high-level political purge in September 2022, days after President Evariste Ndayishimiye had warned of a "coup" plot against him.

A former police chief and minister of internal security, Bunyoni was seen as the head of a cabal of military leaders known as "the generals" who wielded the true political power in Burundi.

He was arrested in April this year in Burundi's economic capital Bujumbura on the eve of his 51st birthday and is being detained in the political capital Gitega.

The trial began late last month before the supreme court sitting in session at the prison.

"The Supreme Court delivered its verdict on Monday, and decided to reject General Bunyoni's request for provisional release," a judicial source told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that he was informed of the decision on Wednesday.

A prison source corroborated the information.

In addition to facing charges of "undermining the internal security of the state, undermining the proper functioning of the national economy and illegal enrichment", Bunyoni is also accused of illegal possession of weapons and insulting the president.

A close ally of former president Pierre Nkurunziza, Bunyoni was an influential senior figure in the ruling CNDD-FDD party.

Ndayishimiye took power in June 2020 after Nkurunziza died of what the Burundian authorities said was heart failure amid widespread speculation he succumbed to Covid-19.

He has been hailed by the international community for slowly ending years of Burundi's isolation under Nkurunziza's chaotic and bloody rule.

But he has failed to improve a wretched record on human rights and the country of 12 million people remains one of the poorest on the planet.