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Burundi Opposition Party Denies Leader Fled to Congo


Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa during an interview with journalists in the southwestern Burundian town of Rumonge, 12 May 2010

Burundi opposition leader Agathon Rwasa during an interview with journalists in the southwestern Burundian town of Rumonge, 12 May 2010

A Burundian opposition leader who criticized the government has dropped out of sight, less than a week before the presidential election. The AFP news agency reports that Agathon Rwasa, leader of the FNL party, crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo before dawn on Wednesday.

Rwasa has accused the government of rigging Burundi's ongoing election process.

In an interview with VOA's Central Africa Service, an FNL spokesman did not specify Rwasa's whereabouts, but said he has gone on a two-week vacation. The spokesman, Jean Bosco Havyarimana, says Rwasa "has the freedom go anywhere he chooses, whether it is inside the country or outside the country."

All opposition parties have pulled out of Burundi's presidential election on 28 Jun, saying the ruling party used fraud to win local elections in May. The election commission has rejected calls to re-run those polls or to postpone Monday's presidential vote. President Pierre Nkurunziza is now running unopposed.

The FNL was the last rebel group to lay down its arms in Burundi's long civil war.

The current elections are aimed at capping a transition to democracy started by peace deals that ended the war in 2005.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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