afrol News, 21 December - "I have never dreamed of organising a coup, I was the one who integrated the rebels in the army, including the current President, because I wanted peace in Burundi," was the statement of the former Burundian President, Domitién Ndayizeye at a treason trial in Bujumbura.
Mr Ndayizeye was the President of the interim government of Burundi from 2003 to 2005, which organised a relatively smooth transition to democracy.
But in August this year, he was rounded up with others, accused of organising a coup against the Burundi government. Prosecutors told the court that the ex-President had convened a meeting to overthrow the government with his allies in his house last May.
But in his testimony at Bujumbura High Court, Mr Ndayizeye denied the charges.
The coup suspects further claimed that they were detained in horrendous conditions characterised by torture.
Burundi government officials are said to be divided over the coup plot, with Defence Minister Germani Nyoyankana defying the prosecution saying that there was no coup attempt.
Also observers outside the Burundian government have expressed their doubt on whether there ever have been coup plans originating in the group close to ex-President Ndayizeye. Most point to the fact that the former leader had demonstrated democratic instincts and free willingly gave up powers following elections in 2005.
Also in court, perceptions were deferring. The Bujumbura High Court ordered the release of seven defendants on bail but prosecutors rejected, claiming that they were still being investigated.
Burundi's current President, ex-rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza, was installed on August last year. He was formerly the head of the Hutu Forces for Defence rebel group that took part in a 12-year war that claimed thousands of lives.
"I never dreamed of organising a coup, in fact I had given up politics to do business and be with my family," Mr Ndayizeye told the Bujumbura court, recalling his role in ending the Burundian civil war and installing the democratically elected government of Mr Nkurunziza."It is I who integrated former rebels, including the actual head of state. That is I wanted Burundi to enjoy peace," he added.
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