Burundi Violence: Opposition Speaker Shot Dead in ‘Political Assassination’

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The spokesman of a Burundi opposition party was shot dead outside his home on Monday, according to the party’s leader.

Patrice Gahungu of the opposition UPD Zigamibanga was assassinated by unknown gunmen in Bujumbura, the nation’s capital, on Monday evening. Party leader Chauineau Mugwengezo made the announcement on Tuesday, condemning the latest attack that follows President Nkurunziza’s controversial election for a third term.

A ‘heinous crime’

“This heinous crime is part of a series of assassinations targeting all those who dared to say that his third terms is illegal,” he told Agence France-Presse. Meanwhile, Gahungu’s widow echoed concerns about a series of ‘political assassinations’ in the country:

“It is a political killing because he had no problem with anyone,” she told Reuters. “In this country, when you openly oppose the ruling party and the government, you are automatically an enemy worth being killed.”

The incident comes less than four month’s after the party’s previous leader was killed outside his Bujumbura home. Zedi Feruzi was gunned down in a drive-by shooting as protests in the nation’s capital intensified.

Further attacks in Bujumbura

Tension peaked last month when a top military general and close ally of President Nkurunziza was killed in a rocket attack, along with three of his bodyguards.

The streets of Bujumbura turned violent after acting President Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a third term – an illegal move according to protesters. The constitution only allows two five-year terms for any given president, but Nkurunziza insists a third term is justified because he was elected by parliament, not the people, for his first term in charge.

Nkurunziza’s third term was confirmed last month, in controversial fashion, causing violence to escalate further across Burundi – particularly in the capital. It’s estimated around 100 people have died so far in conflicts surrounding the election and hundreds more injured and arrested.

 

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Burundi peacekeepers prepare for next rotation to Somalia, Bjumbura, Burundi 012210 (4324781393)” by US Army Africa from Vicenza, Italy – Burundi peacekeepers prepare for next rotation to Somalia, Bjumbura, Burundi 012210Uploaded by AlbertHerring. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.