NAIROBI: Burundi s President Pierre Nkurunziza unveiled his new cabinet on Tuesday, with the central African nation s government dominated by hardliners and loyalists.
The president won a highly controversial third term in elections in July — polls the United Nations say were not free or fair, and which sparked and attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups who condemned his re-election bid as unconstitutional.
There have also been a string of killings since his re-election, including of his top security chief, assassinated in a rocket attack last month.
The new cabinet announcement included the return to the Ministry of Public Security of Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, seen as a hardliner and a top Nkurunziza loyalist, who was instrumental in the crackdown on the protests and the defeat of the coup attempt in mid-May.
Two other top security officials, Gilbert Nizigama and General variste Ndayishimiye, were also given top posts as Nkurunziza s chiefs of staff.
There had been hopes that Nkurunziza would use the new government as an opportunity to take a more conciliatory line following his re-election, and the president had promised just last week to put in place a “government of national unity”.
“This new line-up is not very reassuring,” a Western diplomat said, on condition he not be named. “The hardliners have come out on top. It s not a government that will facilitate dialogue.”
Politicians close to Agathon Rwasa, Nkurunziza s main opponent who split with the rest of the opposition to take up a top parliament post, were given five ministries — but none of them are seen as key.
Nkurunziza won over 69 percent of the vote in the disputed presidential poll last month, giving him a landslide first round victory.
Burundi s constitution only allows a president to be elected twice — for a total of 10 years in power — but before these polls Nkurunziza argued he had only been directly elected by the people once.
In power since 2005, when he was selected by parliament, he was re-elected in 2010.
Nkurunziza, a 51-year-old former sports teacher, was a Hutu rebel leader during the central African country s 13-year civil war, when at least 300,000 people were killed.
The opposition and international community claimed a third term violated the Arusha accords that paved the way to end the war in 2006. Agencies