Deadly violence flares up in the Great Lakes region

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Over the weekend news broke of the killing of the Environment minister in Burundi Emmanuel Niyonkuru, on his way home from New Year celebrations, sparking fears of deepening violence and conflict in that country.

This incident comes on the heels of massive violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with opposition demanding the resignation of President Joseph Kabila.

The two countries are part of what is called the Great Lakes region that includes countries like Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Ambassador Welile Nhlapo is a former special representative to the Great lakes and has spent a lot of time in efforts to bring about peace in this region.

“Burundi has a very long bitter history. You just have to look at the calendar every year. The marking of assassination of leaders tells you the trauma that that country has gone through. There are several coups that have taken place and off course in 1993 there was an election that took place and a democratically elected president was murdered three months into office together with some of his cabinet. That sparked a very serious conflict which took an ethnic dimension . Because the ethnic group within the military responsible for that coup were Tutsis and then off course there was a massive response on the part of the Hutus. Since then there had been wars that had followed.”

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