BURUNDI ANNOUNCES GITEGA AS NEW CAPITAL
(Posted 23rd December 2018)
(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
The hitherto rather obscure rural town of Gitega has been annointed as Burundi’s new capital city, seemingly abandoning Bujumbura, a city with over 1.2 million inhabitants and location of the landlocked country’s only international airport.
With just 30.000 people living in Gitega and no significant infrastructure, few hotels – none of international standards – and literally no office space for rent, will it be anyone’s guess how the move of government offices can be accomplished, unless the bureaucrats are willing to set up a tent town for that purpose. Part of the announcement also was that several government ministries will already shift to the new ‘capital’ in January 2019 and that cabinet meetings will also have to be held there – though no one could or would confirm that the government was to erect large party tents for that purpose.
Already the odd country out in the East African Community – Burundi is responsible for bouncing the last two summits which were scheduled to be held in Arusha – will this move no doubt further isolate the illegitimate regime which is already under intense regional and international pressure.
It was suggested that the more central location of Gitega is aiming to create a buffer zone between the opposition dominated Bujumbura and an embattled dictator, providing defensive spaces between him and his inner circle and any potential movement to capture him and his lieutenants and bring them to justice.
(A typical street scene in Gitega – picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
Social media in Burundi were also awash with acid comments over the new presidential palace in Bujumbura, which, built by the Chinese, is said to cost a double digit US Dollar figure, money the country does not have – nor, as has been suggested – is there any budget for a move of the capital.
With tourism all but non existent and trade with the region on a sustained downward spiral, is it now anyone’s guess what 2019 will hold for the country.