Alexis Sinduhije thanks European nations for pressure to secure his release
BUJUMBURA (Reuters) – A political activist jailed in Burundi four months ago for insulting President Pierre Nkurunziza was freed on Thursday and thanked Western nations which had pushed for his release.
Alexis Sinduhije, a prominent former journalist who founded a political party in 2007, was named in Time magazine’s 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, under the category “Heroes & Pioneers”.
Hundreds of supporters, some diplomats and several human rights activists gathered from early morning outside the main prison in the capital Bujumbura. Some waved placards bearing his picture alongside U.S. President Barack Obama.
“I would like to thank particularly European countries like Britain, France, Germany and Belgium,” Sinduhije told reporters after his release. “I have got back my freedom because those countries put a lot of pressure on the Burundian authorities.”
Burundi was seen as an African success story after a long U.N.-backed peace process led to the election in 2005 of former rebel leader Nkurunziza. But the central African nation is often criticised for the way it deals with dissent, and Sinduhije had been especially harsh about its record on human rights.