28 April 2017

Burundi: My Life Is in Danger, Says Opposition Leader

Burundi's main opposition leader and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Agathon Rwasa has claimed his life is in danger following attacks of several of his supporters by unknown people.

He said the attacks and a plot to assassinate him are linked to the coming elections in 2020.

Mr Rwasa pointed an accusing finger at members of the ruling party, Council for the Defence of Democracy - Forces for the Restoration of Democracy, CNDD-FDD, and the police.

Mr Rwasa is one of the few opposition leaders who have remained critical of President Pierre Nkurunziza's government. Several of his supporters have lately been killed and others kidnapped and he says these incidents have left him fearing for his life. But the government has dismissed the claims, saying he had not even made an official complaint.

"We suppose that he is well protected by the police and the army because he hasn't yet reported any abnormal situation of his security," said Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.Video footage surfaced on social media showing the ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure jogging while chanting that they would "impregnate" opposition members so as they "could give birth to Imbonerakure."

The video stirred up reactions from the international community, with the latest condemnation coming from the UN human rights office.

"The grotesque rape chants by the young men are deeply alarming, particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia," said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.The ruling party condemned the Imbonerakure, saying it was contrary to the "rules and the mission of the party."

"CNDD-FDD condemns the use of that language and the disciplinary commission is investigating and whoever involved will be sanctioned," a statement read from the ruling party.

Efforts have been made by the East African Community to put an end to the political crisis that continued to dog the country since 2015, although the regional mediated dialogue under the facilitation of former Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa is yet to produce tangible results.

"We had said this before and we will continue saying it that the Burundi government will not sit on the same table with the coup plotters... they only have to face justice," said Will Nyamitwe, special ambassador of Burundi.

As the country steadily gains stability and the focus turns to the 2020 general elections, the ruling party CNDD-FDD is said to still have the upper hand. The absence of main opposition leaders and weak opposition justifies the dominance of CNDD-FDD.

The intra-Burundi dialogue commission (CNDI) released a report on the findings in the six-month period on what could restore peace.

According to the findings, Burundians called on their lawmakers to scrap term limits that can see the incumbent stay in power.

Burundi is relatively gaining stability after the violent protests in 2015 that led to more than 500 people losing their lives. The country's Constitution has been at the centerstage of the political crisis the country has faced since the 2015 polls.

Burundi

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