Burundi Opposition Leader Assassinated, Other Opposition Figures Go Into Hiding
On Saturday, the leader of the opposition party, Zedi Feruzi, was shot dead along with his bodyguard. Feruzi’s body was discovered in the Ngagara district of Bujumbura.
The news was confirmed by a leading opposition figure.
Agathon Rwasa said there was no information regarding who killed Feruzi, the leader of the opposition party Union for Peace and Development (UPD). Another third person, presumably a police officer acting as a guard to Feruzi, was severely injured in the incident.
Rwasa criticized President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in the office.
According to Al Jazeera, a neighbor, who was not a direct witness to the incident, said, “We heard around 20 gunshots, everyone fell to the ground, people saw a Toyota car speeding away.”
One of the mourners held a sign that read, “Those who killed Feruzi Zedi will pay sooner or later.”
A day before, three people were killed in addition to 40 others who were injured in a grenade attack on a busy market.
Since the instigation of the demonstrations in late April, the anti-government demonstrations have already left around 30 dead.
Activists condemned the attack, calling it an “awful act.” In a statement, they said that they were “suspending participating in dialogue with the government” supported by United Nations and African Union.
Opposition leaders fear that anyone standing up against President Nkurunziza’s election bid could be killed. Many have reportedly gone into hiding.
Rwasa said, “The life of anyone who opposes Pierre Nkurunziza is in danger. People are being assassinated here and there.”
President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term is in violation of the agreement that brought the civil war to an end, opposition and rights groups argue. However, President Nkurunziza says that since he was appointed in his first term by the parliament, and wasn’t elected by the people, his bid to apply for another term is constitutional.
According to LA Times, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the assassination of Feruzi and the grenade attack in a statement, and expressed his concerns that the events could cause further violence in Burundi.
He called out to the Burundian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Burundian authorities need “to uphold the human rights of all Burundians, including the freedoms of assembly, association and expression, and to take concrete steps to prevent political killings and violence,” he said.
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