TIME Burundi

No Victor in Sight as Coup Unfolds in Burundi

Protesters, who are against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, gesture in front of a burning barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 14, 2015.
Goran Tomasevic—Reuters Protesters, who are against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, gesture in front of a burning barricade in Bujumbura, Burundi on May 14, 2015.

Rival troops struggle for power in the East African country's capital, but with the President abroad in Tanzania, residents are left in a state of chaos

At what point does an attempted coup become a successful coup? Residents of the East African nation of Burundi woke up to that question on Thursday morning as fighting intensified in the streets of the capital, Bujumbura. Local radio stations, usually the most reliable source of information, offered no clarity for good reason: both independent and state-owned broadcasters were under attack Thursday morning as troops loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza battled supporters of former intelligence chief Godefroid Niyombare for control of the airways and the opportunity to declare victory.

On Wednesday morning Niyombare announced the coup after the President flew to a meeting in Tanzania. The streets of the capital erupted in celebration as residents, who had been protesting the President’s decision to run for a third, and potentially illegal, term in office saw a chance for victory.

A protestor holds up a dead owl attached to a stick, intended to denigrate the ruling party whose emblem is an eagle, during a protest in Buterere neighbourhood of Bujumbura
Goran Tomasevic—ReutersA protestor holds up a dead owl attached to a stick, intended to denigrate the ruling party whose emblem is an eagle, during a protest in Buterere neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi on May 12, 2015.

They sang, cheered, and shook the hands of pro-coup soldiers. One protestor lofted a dead owl in the air to mock the death of the President’s party, whose emblem is an eagle (owls being easier to come by than eagles in Burundi, apparently). But the celebration was short lived. Government officials announced Wednesday evening that the coup had been foiled, “and that these people, who read the coup announcement on the radio, are being hunted by defense and security forces so that they can be brought to justice.”

Niyombare responded by shutting down the country’s sole airport and closing all borders in the landlocked nation. Nkurunziza was locked out of his country and reduced to calling for calm from Tanzania via Twitter. “The situation is under control, there is no coup in Burundi,” tweeted the official presidential account in French. Overnight, loyalist forces in the military appeared to take the upper hand. Presidential supporter General Prime Niyongabo, the army chief of staff, announced “The attempted coup… has been stopped,” according to the BBC.

The coup attempt is the culmination of violent protests that have rocked the impoverished nation for more than two weeks since the ruling CNDD-FDD party announced that it had selected President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for next month’s elections. The president has already served two five-year terms, the maximum allowed by the constitution, but his supporters claim that since he was not elected for his first term, but appointed by parliament, the first term doesn’t count. The country’s constitutional court supported the interpretation, but the one dissenting judge immediately fled the country for fear that his life was at risk, raising questions about the court’s impartiality. Opposition politicians fear that should he run again, his party will be able to rig the election in his favor. A born-again Christian that rarely travels without his personal choir, the President also believes that he was personally appointed by God to lead Burundi, according to his presidential spokesman. “Mr. Nkurunziza indeed believes he is president by divine will, and he therefore organizes his life and government around these values,” presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe told AFP in April.

At least 22 have been killed in protests that were often divided along ethnic lines. Scores have been injured, and some 50,000 Burundians have fled for neighboring countries, fearful that the 13-year-old civil war that ended in 2006 might reignite.

In announcing his coup, Niyombare, a former presidential ally who was dismissed in February, said that he had no intention of taking power himself, only that he wanted to work for “the restoration of national unity and the resumption of the electoral process in a peaceful and fair environment,” according to AFP.

Burundi may be small, with a population of 10.1 million, but heightened tensions in one of the most volatile areas of east Africa are cause for international concern. The U.S. Department of State urged Burundians to “lay down arms, end the violence and show restraint,” while the European Union and the United Nations appealed for calm. Neighbors Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also watching the events closely, though for different reasons. Both countries have upcoming presidential elections, and both have incumbents who are reaching the end of their constitutional term limits. But both Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and the DRC’s Joseph Kabila have hinted that they might seek a way to stay on. It’s not just Burundians who want to know whether or not the coup was successful; Kabila and Kagame are likely to be taking note as well.

TIME Innovation

Are We Breaking Up With Saudi Arabia?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Is the special Saudi-U.S. relationship on the rocks?

By Ray Takeyh at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Two-year degrees can really pay off.

By Liz Weston at Reuters

3. A self-contained urban farm, delivered in a box, could slash water use by 90 percent.

By Danny Crichton in TechCrunch

4. How a lake full of methane could power Rwanda and DR Congo.

By Jonathan W. Rosen in MIT Technology Review

5. Nope, we’re not going to live on crickets in the near-future.

By Brooke Borel in Popular Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Rwanda

Scars and the Smell of Grass: One Survivor’s Lasting Reminders of Genocide

Survivors of the Rwanda genocide in 1994, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead, still grapple with its brutal legacy

More than two decades after the Rwandan genocide, the smell of grass in the summer still gives Consolee Nishimwe nightmares.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, according to the United Nations. At 14, Nishimwe survived a brutal attack that left her emotionally and physically scarred for years. As a result of the assault, she is now HIV positive. Her father and brothers—aged 18 months, 7 and 9—were all killed.

“I will never forget what happened to me,” Nishimwe, who has vivid memories of hiding in the bushes from Hutu militias, told TIME in a recent interview. “Physical violence happened to me, and also living with HIV as a result of that, it’s something I will never forget—that will never go anywhere, that I have to live with.”

This week, as Rwanda’s government commemorates the 21st anniversary of the genocide, many survivors like Nishimwe are faced with unavoidable reminders of the physical and emotional toll of the conflict.

When asked about forgiveness, Nishimwe, who now lives in New York City, spoke of a work in progress. “That’s a really difficult word,” she said. “I think I did… I think 20 years is still early to me.”

Nishimwe’s book, Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience, and Hope, is an account of her experience as a survivor.

TIME Rwanda

Inside the Tech Revolution That Could Be Rwanda’s Future

Rwanda hopes a technological revolution will help transform it into a middle-income country

Correction appended: April 10, 2015.

Twenty-one years ago Tuesday, a genocide began in Rwanda that would claim as many as 1 million lives over the next 100 days. Today, the small East African nation has progressed remarkably from a history plagued with corruption, ethnic divisions and underdevelopment.

Under President Paul Kagame, who some credit for helping end the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has taken a number of steps to turn itself around. Provincial boundaries were redrawn, infrastructure was strengthened, a transitional justice system convicted the worst Génocidaires — even a new flag was unveiled to promote national unity and reconciliation. While some accuse Kagame of using his country’s history as a means of controlling its modern politics, there’s no doubting his country’s economic success.

But as Rwanda heals its past, the nation is also forging ahead — aggressively. A government initiative is underway to expand technology and connectivity, with the goal of transforming the agrarian economy into a highly digitized, middle-income country by 2020. With its population projected to reach 16 million by 2020, from 8 million in 2000, the country is looking beyond state funds and international aid to develop its economy: “While both of these must contribute, the backbone of the process should be a middle class of Rwandan entrepreneurs,” according the plan, called Vision 2020.

Vision 2020 is bold, but it’s working. And many outside Africa — and inside — are marveling at how an economy long-dominated by subsistence farming is becoming a high-tech hub — and one of the 20 fastest-growing countries in the world.

The Rwandan five hundred francs bill features students on laptops, representing the one laptop a child movement.
Cassandra GiraldoThe Rwandan five hundred francs bill features students on laptops, representing the one laptop a child movement.

“It’s apparent if you walk around [the capital city, Kigali]. They have currency with kids on their laptops. Everyone has a cell phone, and these cell phone companies have their advertisements painted all over the country, even if you drive into the rural parks,” says New York-based photographer Cassandra Giraldo, who took the images in this story during her February trip to Rwanda under the International Women’s Media Foundation’s African Great Lakes Reporting Fellowship. “It’s a very different narrative that we don’t see coming out of East Africa or Africa as a continent.”

The rapid adoption of mobile technology in particular has been vital in paving the way for a new generation of Rwandan entrepreneurs. In the early 2000s, Rwanda’s government kicked off Vision 2020 by linking the country to an international network of undersea cables and global wireless networks. The use of mobile phones has skyrocketed in Rwanda since then, so much that Nsengimana even launched the country’s first high-speed 4G LTE network last November:

One such entrepreneur working to drive Rwandan progress is social entrepreneur Aphrodice Mutagana. Mutagana, 30, is the founder of FOYO, a mobile pharmaceutical directory that provides education to Africans relating to medicine, including dosage information, drug-food interactions and side effects. Mutagana’s interest in healthcare has also led him to launch the Incike Initiative, a mobile crowdfunding app that raises funds for elderly survivors of the genocide, some of whom are the only remaining members of their families.

Last year, Mutagana raised 1.7 million Rwandan francs ($2,500), an amount he hopes to top in this year’s campaign, which launched this week and is timed to coincide with the national commemoration of the genocide from April to July. “We decided to dream big,” Mutagana says. “Technology is affecting everything, and now you can contribute in ways you didn’t have 20 years ago.”

Aphrodice Mutangana, 30, working at the kLab co-working space in Kigali.
Cassandra GiraldoAphrodice Mutangana, 30, working at the kLab co-working space in Kigali.

Like many Rwandan entrepreneurs, Mutagana frequently works at kLab, an open space for IT entrepreneurs to collaborate. kLab, which stands for “knowledge lab,” is designed to help students, new graduates and other innovators to turn their ideas into viable business models under experienced mentors and tech workshops. Other co-working spaces, like “The Office“, have given other entrepreneurs the tools to launch their ideas, including Clarisse Iribagiza, 26, CEO of software development company HeHe Labs.

With HeHe Labs, which was started in 2010 after development in an MIT-run startup incubator, Igibagiza offers a Code Club fellowship to recently graduated high school students, who serve as leaders and mentors in schools around Kigali. Her interest in inspiring Rwanda’s youth has also led her to actively encourage young girls to consider careers in technology, including having partnered with Nike to design the mobile software Girl Hub, which allows girls to use their mobile phones to provide feedback to weekly radio shows. “We want to create homegrown solutions and to focus on the now,” says Iribagiza.

Cassandra GiraldoHeHe Ltd. coding fellows Honoré Yves, 18, left and Yannick Kabayiza, 18, right at after school program at S.O.S. Kagugu Tecnhical High School.

As entrepreneurships emerge in Rwanda, the push for greater technological growth has also enticed multinational businesses, investors and institutions to establish a foothold in the country. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, opened a Rwandan campus in 2012 to attract students interested in the country’s efforts to boost its tech sector. Smaller companies like laptop and smartphone maker Gira ICT have partnered with manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, HP and Lenovo to offer customers a monthly payment system to boost affordability. Meanwhile, Rwandan partnerships with Microsoft and Intel have launched a number of educational initiatives in Rwandan schools to ensure a new generation is equipped with the skills to continue the technology initiative.

Still, some companies and investors treat Rwanda with caution. A high cost of credit has led to businesses paying upwards of 20% of interest on their loans to banks, despite the ease with which many entrepreneurs describe launching their companies. Additionally, some see Rwanda’s steady GDP growth — about 8% last year — as being possible only due to the country’s historic poverty. In fact, Rwanda is still classified as low-income country with a ways to go until it reaches a middle-class designation, according to the World Bank.

But in a small landlocked country lacking in natural resources, technology is one of the few domestic resources that Rwanda may be able to mobilize in order to decrease its high dependency on foreign aid. Even more visible changes may lay ahead with the last stage of Vision 2020, which uses the new infrastructure and technology to improve education, communities and the private sector.

“Not only are they reducing the cost of making technology accessible, they’re also creating jobs,” says IDC Sub-Saharan Africa analyst Mark Walker, who is based in South Africa. “Rwanda is neither mineral-rich nor oil-rich, and to that end, technology is a great enabler.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified who was responsible for launching the Vision 2020 program. It was initiated by the Rwandan government.

Inventing Rwanda
Cassandra GiraldoThe land of a thousand hills. Rwanda is attempting to turn an agrarian society into a knowledge-based economy and instilling a sense of national identity and unity in Rwandans.
TIME HIV/AIDS

African Countries Should Spend More in AIDS Response, Study Says

A mother holds the hand of her Aids stricken son in Rakai, Ugand
Getty Images

To meet AIDS eradication goals, study says funding should be re-allocated

Twelve African countries with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS are currently the largest recipients of international AIDS funding. But it’s now possible for many of them to make domestic spending on the disease a priority, a new study says.

As countries in sub-Saharan Africa gain better financial footing, funds from donor countries are tightening. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the Results for Development Institute decided to test a couple of scenarios to see whether funding for the AIDS response could be re-allocated so African countries would finance a greater share.

Their results, published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, show that overall, the 12 countries—Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia—could provide a greater share of the costs of AIDS programs in their countries over the next five years. However, several countries will still need support from donors, even if they were to provide their maximum funds.

MORE: The End of AIDS

By looking at factors like expected growth and total government spending, and then comparing them to the countries’ AIDS needs, the researchers found that in most scenarios, AIDS expenditures for three of the upper-middle-income countries (Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) exceed their needs. In many cases, they found, these three countries could actually fund their needs solely from domestic resources. Other low-income countries like Mozambique and Ethiopia would still need to largely rely on donors.

Currently, the dozen countries are home to more than 50% of AIDS cases worldwide, as well as 56% of financial aid for the disease. They also account for 83% of funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which makes up one of the largest shares of international donations. In 2014, the United Nations program UNAIDS estimated that a “fast-tracked” response to ending the AIDS epidemic would mean we’d need $35 billion each year by 202o, but in 2012, only $19 billion was available and almost half came from international sources. To meet such goals, the researchers suggest their new funding strategy.

Almost none of the 12 countries meet possible financing benchmarks that the study authors believe to be reasonable. If the countries spent more domestically, researchers say that self-funding could increase 2.5 times and could cover 64% of future needs. That would still leave a gap of about $7.9 billion.

“Coupled with improved resource tracking, such metrics could enhance transparency and accountability for efficient use of money and maximize the effect of available funding to prevent HIV infections and save lives,” the study authors conclude. Sharing the financial burden of AIDS more equitably may be one strategy for eradicating the disease faster.

TIME Rwanda

Rwanda Now Screening Travelers From The U.S. And Spain for Ebola

A New Jersey elementary school recently barred entry to two transfer students from the Ebola-free country

As mass panic over Ebola sweeps over the globe, resulting in widespread stigmatization of travelers to and from Africa, one Ebola-free East African nation is stepping up its precautionary approach toward people traveling to or from America and Europe.

Rwanda Tuesday began screening people who have been in the U.S. or Spain in the last two weeks. A handful of patients have been diagnosed with Ebola in both countries. Rwanda is already denying entry to visitors who have been in Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone in the last 22 days.

Coincidence or not, Rwanda’s new policy clips on the heels of a New Jersey elementary school that barred entry to two transfer students from Rwanda, even though the country is 2,600 miles from the closest Ebola-afflicted country.

Rwanda’s protocol is laid out on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 8

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Quotas can cause lasting change. Rwanda’s new parliament is more than 60% female.

By Eleanor Whitehead in This Is Africa

2. With open communication and smart procedures, we can contain Ebola.

By Atul Gawande in The New Yorker

3. A simple plan to begin saving for college at kindergarten helps families thrive.

By Andrea Levere in the New York Times

4. Teach For America is sewing seeds for education reform in unlikely places – by design.

By Jackie Mader in Next City

5. How Bitcoin could save journalism and the arts.

By Walter Isaacson in Time

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME portfolio

James Nachtwey: 30 Years in TIME

To celebrate James Nachtwey’s 30 years as a contract photographer for TIME, we have organized an exhibit of 54 layouts that have appeared in the magazine featuring his work from Chechnya to Somalia and from Afghanistan to Burma, along with a series of his powerful, previously unpublished photographs. Below, James Nachtwey, and TIME’s Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs, reflect on the relationship between photographer and publication.

Any worthwhile, long-term relationship is built on integrity, trust, caring and a common purpose, and those are the elements that have characterized my 30-year relationship with TIME. Working in the field in difficult circumstances, there are many things to be concerned about, from logistics to survival, but the ultimate goal is to get the story right. Knowing that the people who publish the pictures are just as motivated by that as I am means everything. Every image on these walls is the result of teamwork. I happened to be the point man, but the support, guidance and inspiration I have received for so many years have made this work possible, and I want to thank all my colleagues at TIME from the bottom of my heart. — James Nachtwey

unnamed-1

TIME’s exhibition at Photoville.

James Nachtwey has spent his life in the places people most want to avoid: war zones and refugee camps, the city flattened by an earthquake or a terrorist attack, the village swallowed by a flood. A Massachusetts native and graduate of Dartmouth, Jim worked in the merchant marine and as a truck driver while he taught himself photography. His assignments for TIME, where he is in his 30th year, have taken him around the world multiple times. There is a particular art to capturing the places where pain presides. Pain is the most private experience, but its causes demand public accounting. It’s exactly when you want to look the other way that Jim’s images bring you back, command attention and invite understanding. — Nancy Gibbs

James Nachtwey: 30 Years in TIME runs from September 18 to 28, 2014 and is part of Photoville, an outdoor photography exhibition in Brooklyn, New York.

James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer, documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues. Nancy Gibbs is Managing Editor of TIME.

TIME foreign affairs

Soldiers From Poor Countries Have Become the World’s Peacekeepers

Undated photograph released by Hanin Network, a militant website, shows Fijian UN peacekeepers who were seized by The Nusra Front on Aug. 28, 2014, in the Golan Heights.
AP Undated photograph released by Hanin Network, a militant website, shows Fijian UN peacekeepers who were seized by The Nusra Front on Aug. 28, 2014, in the Golan Heights.

It is an unfair burden for troops who are less well trained, under-supplied and ill equipped

On Aug. 28, rebels from the al-Qaeda-allied al-Nusra Front stormed the Golan Heights border crossing between Syria and Israel, home to one of the oldest U.N. peacekeeping operations. While two contingents of Philippine peacekeepers managed to flee the rebel attack, 45 Fijian troops were captured and taken away by the rebels to parts unknown.

The Fijians were finally released on Sept. 11, but the two-week crisis crystallized a persistent yet under-reported fact: while the U.N. calls upon the international community to act in times of crises, it is often soldiers from developing nations who shoulder the stiffest burden.

In 1994, on the heels of the Rwandan genocide, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (China, Russia, France, the U.K. and the U.S.) provided 20% of all U.N. peacekeeping personnel.

But by 2004, Security Council nations contributed only 5% of U.N. personnel. This July, amid a tumultuous summer of violent conflicts, that figure had dropped to a miserly 4%, while the governments of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Fiji, Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Philippines provided a staggering 39% of all U.N. forces.

Critics can counter this charge with stats of their own. After all, they say, the permanent members contribute 53% of the U.N.’s annual budget, far outstripping financial contributions made by countries of the global south. But recent years have also seen sluggish rates of payment from wealthier nations — delays that further strain an overburdened system supporting 16 peacekeeping missions around the world.

On balance, the troops contributed by developing countries are more likely to be less well trained, under-supplied and ill equipped for the missions. Delays in financial contributions only complicate the challenges of modern peacekeeping.

So does the fractured nature of modern conflicts. Military experts, like General Sir Rupert Smith, have noted the shift from “industrial wars” of the past to today’s “war amongst the people.” Modern conflicts involve combatants whose ends are not merely the control of territory or the monopoly of politics. They wage war with their own rules, without concern for the U.N.’s mission to referee.

In response, peacekeeping has been hurriedly ramped up: more comprehensive mandates are issued and troops are cleared to use force in defense of civilians. But in the end, peacekeepers are redundant where there is no peace to keep.

The Golan Heights are no exception. The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force was set up 40 years ago precisely to observe the contentious border between Israel and Syria. Today, the threats aren’t even nation states. The peacekeepers in Golan must contend with spillover from Syria’s three-year-long civil war, and the aggression of al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front. They are forced to become soldiers on the front lines of a perpetually asymmetrical conflict, treated as mere machine-gun fodder whenever the international community seeks to stem the spread of terror by piling blue helmets in its way.

In a New York Times op-ed of Aug. 29, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed U.S. intentions to use its position as president of the Security Council to coordinate a response to terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East.

“The United States … will use that opportunity to continue to build a broad coalition and highlight the danger posed by foreign terrorist fighters,” Kerry wrote, adding that “President Obama, addressing the Security Council, would construct a plan to deal with this collective threat.”

For observers, however, events in Golan should serve as a warning. If the U.N. and its leading members intend to tackle collective threats, it is time to address how best to equitably divide the collective risk. In service of international stability, leaders of the developed world have become far too comfortable asking developing countries to put their troops in the line of fire.

Adam McCauley is a Canadian writer and photographer currently based in Hong Kong. His work has appeared in TIME, the New York Times, Al Jazeera and online in the New Yorker.

TIME Foreign Policy

The U.S. Will Spend $110 Million a Year on African Peacekeeping Efforts

Uganda
Ben Curtis—ASSOCIATED PRESS A soldier from the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) engages in weapons training at the Singo training facility in Kakola, Uganda Monday, April 30, 2012. The camp provides different training courses run by the U.S. Marines and also by instructors contracted by the U.S. State Department.

The plan is to help fund African rapid-response forces that will deal with armed Islamist groups

Correction appended, Aug. 7

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington on Wednesday, President Barack Obama unveiled plans to invest $110 million annually over the next three to five years to help six African countries create rapid-response forces, Reuters reports.

At a summit news conference, Obama said the funds the funds would boost African Union and U.N. operations in crisis spots around the continent, using peacekeepers from Ethiopia, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana.” Obama said that the funds are meant to remedy the current “gap in systematically supporting these peacekeepers to help them deploy more quickly.”

The U.S. has become more involved in supporting African military efforts to combat Islamic extremists recently, training over a quarter-million African police and military.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., added that the U.S. hoped to create “troop-contributing countries” that would fight off extremist groups like al-Shabab, al-Qaeda affiliates and Boko Haram, which has killed over 10,000 people since it began its uprising in Nigeria in 2009.

Obama also announced intentions to spend an initial $65 million on strengthening security efforts in Niger, Tunisia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Kenya. Along with the funding, Obama unveiled a plan called the Security Governance Initiative, which will help bolster security sectors and other infrastructures that offer crises resolution in Africa.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified countries as crisis zones where African Union and United Nations peacekeepers would be deployed.

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