National Forces of Liberation

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National Forces of Liberation
Forces nationales de libération
President Agathon Rwasa
Founded 1980 (founded)
2008 (registered)
Ideology Hutu interests
Colors Red, Green
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National Assembly
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Party flag
Flag of the FNL (Burundi).svg

The National Forces of Liberation (French: Forces nationales de libération, FNL), formerly Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People (also known as PALIPEHUTU, the acronym of its French name Parti pour la libération du peuple hutu) is a political party and rebel group in Burundi which fought in the Burundi Civil War for the Hutu ethnic group.

The armed wing of PALIPEHUTU were the National Forces of Liberation (FNL or Forces nationales de libération). The FNL is led by Agathon Rwasa and is estimated to have around 3,000 combatants.[1]

A dissident wing is led by Jean Bosco Sindayigaya.[1]


PALIPEHUTU was founded in 1980 in refugee camps in Tanzania, where Hutus had fled following persecution by the Tutsi-led government.[2] PALIPEHUTU advocated armed struggle and established its armed wing, the FNL, in 1985. The National Liberation Front (FROLINA) split from PALIPEHUTU in 1990, and the armed wing PALIPEHUTU-FNL, led by Cossan Kabura split from the political wing of PALIPEHUTU in 1991. The political wing of PALIPEHUTU was renamed the Party for the Liberation of People-Agakiza and is led by Etienne Karatasi. In 2002 PALIPEHUTU-FNL split into two factions, one led by Kabura and one by Agathon Rwasa.

Generally, PALIPEHUTU's support comes more from the central region of Muramvya and Lake Tanganyika, whereas the main Hutu political party CNDD derives its support from the southern Bururi region.[3]

Civil War[edit]

During the civil war, PALIPEHUTU-FNL was linked to the killing of Monsignor Michael Courtney,[4] the Catholic Church's chief representative in Burundi, the Titanic Express massacre and the Gatumba massacre in which over 150 Banyamulenge Congolese refugees were killed.

PALIPEHUTU also fought in the Second Congo War alongside the Congolese army, the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda and the Mai-Mai against the Burundian army.[2]

Following the Gatumba massacre, the Great Lakes Peace Initiative declared PALIPEHUTU-FNL to be a terrorist organisation, and the South African President, Thabo Mbeki called on the International Criminal Court to prosecute.[5]

PALIPEHUTU-FNL was the last Hutu rebel group to sign an agreement with the Burundi government, which it did in September 2006[6]

Further agreements led to a final agreement in December 2008, according to which it also changed its name to remove "PALIPEHUTU" to leave only "FNL" as its name (as Burundian political parties may not refer to ethnicities in their names).[7]

On May 15, 2009, UNICEF reported that 136 ex-FNL child soldiers returned to their communities in Burundi.[8]

Party emblem[edit]

The party's emblem a bent bow and an arrow placed between a hoe and a hammer. The party's flag is red with the centre inscribed with the emblem of the party in black. Red symbolizes the suffering endured by the people of Burundi. The bent bow and the arrow symbolize the struggle for the fundamental rights and liberties. The hoe and the hammer, whose handles converges, symbolize the commitment in unity to agricultural and industrial development, respectively. Green symbolizes the hope to set up peace, justice and democracy in Burundi.[9]