Bujumbura — BURUNDIAN authorities and youth affiliated to the ruling party have allegedly killed, kidnapped and arrested dozens of political opponents as tensions rise ahead of next year's elections.
Violations have spiked since the constitutional referendum in May 2018 and the accreditation of a new opposition party in February this year.
Members of Imbonerakure, the youth league affiliated to the National Council for the ruling Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), and local authorities continue putting pressure on opponents, especially in rural areas.
This is largely in reaction to the formation of the National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to contest presidential elections scheduled for 2020.
Abuses have been reported in eight of the country's 18 provinces.
Lewis Mudge, director for Central Africa at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said some local administrators and members of Imbonerakure terrorised the public out of sight, due to the lack of independent media and civil society.
"Alarming violence is fueled by impunity in Burundi, and the cases we have documented are probably just the tip of the iceberg, " Mudge said.
HRW has documented at least three killings, four disappearances and 24 arbitrary arrests of real or perceived opposition members in eight provinces since January.
The number of victims is feared higher.
The United Nations Security Council is set to meet over the situation in Burundi on Friday (tomorrow).
Burundi is mired in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza forced a third term in 2015.