Burundi opposition spokesman shot dead

Assassination attempts continue in Burundi as political parties accuse one another of plotting killings

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Policemen during a protest against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term in Bujumbura, Burundi-Archive

The spokesman of the Burundi's opposition Union for Peace and Democracy Party (UPD), Patrice Gahungu, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Bujumbura on Monday, according to the deputy police officer Godfroid Bizimana, reported by Agence France-Presse.

It is the latest incident in the series of killings of politicians in Brundi, a country which is swept by political turmoil since April.

The spokesman’s widow, Clemence Nsabiyimbona, told Reuters that “It is a political assassination because he had no problem with anyone. In this country when you openly oppose the ruling party and the government, you are automatically an enemy worth being killed.”

Chauvineau Mugwengezo, the honorary president of UPD living in exile, also claimed the government had arranged Gahungu’s killing.

“This heinous crime is part of a series of assassinations targeting all those who dared to say that his third term is illegal,” he told Agence France-Presse, adding that the UPD, which rejected the credibility of the elections, was targeted because it had previously accepted members who had split from Nkurunziza and defected to the party.

But a police source said the UPD spokesman might have been killed by his party members because “he had publicly congratulated President Nkurunziza for his re-election, which had attracted the wrath of his camp.”   

Charles Nditije, a former minister who is now president of the opposition Union for National Progress party, said he survived a current assassination attempt when the gunman was arrested. Nditije, frequently changes cars when travelling around and no longer sleeps at his house every night.

The 61 year old leader said, “I’m blacklisted so I can be attacked at any time. Around 90% of opposition leaders are outside the country. The president is pushing all opponents out so he can gain a stranglehold. People have been killed, tortured, arrested, but if we all go out of the country it will be a betrayal. We have to remain here to support each other. There is no way we can fight a tyrant from outside.”

Willy Nyamitwe, official adviser to president Nkurunziza, said: “These pictures are simply fabricated to tarnish the Burundian police. They are spreading rumours. So it’s only a fabrication.”

In May, the former opposition party leader was shot and killed alongside his bodyguard in the capital city, Bujumbura.

Since an ethnically-driven civil war ended in 2005, Burundi has been dragged through its worst political crisis.

The bloody unrest over Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid sparked violent protests and plunged the country in an unprecedented crises which killed over 70 people and more than 500 people wounded.

More than 100,000 people have fled to neighbouring nations since the political violence that culminated in last week's foiled coup attempt erupted in April, according to the UN.

Nkurunziza was announced the winner of the July 21 election following months of street protests and a foiled coup.

TRTWorld and agencies