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US Slaps Sanctions on 4 Burundians

  • VOA News

FILE - Major General Godefroid Niyombare, one of the four people sanctioned, addresses the nation inside the Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) broadcasting studios in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, May 13, 2015.

FILE - Major General Godefroid Niyombare, one of the four people sanctioned, addresses the nation inside the Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) broadcasting studios in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, May 13, 2015.

The United States has imposed sanctions on four Burundians it says have contributed to ongoing turmoil in the Central African country.

President Barack Obama took action against the four men in an executive order issued Monday.

They include Burundi's Minister of Public Security Alain Bunyoni, deputy national police director Godefroid Bizimana, former intelligence chief Godefroid Niyombare and former minister of defense Cyrille Ndayirukiye.

The U.S. accuses Bunyoni and Bizimana of directing operations to intimidate and suppress opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza. It says Niyombare and Ndayirukiye contributed to instability in Burundi by trying to overthrow the president in May.

Obama's order freezes any assets the men have in U.S. jurisdictions and blocks them from entering U.S. territory. The European Union and African Union also have imposed sanctions on the four Burundians.

The White House says it has received multiple reports of "targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and political repression by security forces" in Burundi.

Meanwhile, Burundian officials have suspended 10 non-governmental organizations that have been opposed to the president's moves to stay in office for a third term. The government says the groups have been involved in anti-government activities as well as playing a role in an attempted military coup this year.

Among the suspended groups is one led by prominent rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who now lives in exile in Belgium after surviving an assassination attempt.

Burundi was plunged into crisis in April when the president announced he would seek a third term. Critics said he was violating the constitution's two-term limit as well as an agreement that ended Burundi's 12-year civil war.

The United Nations says violence since then has killed more than 240 people and prompted more than 200,000 Burundians to flee the country. The president was re-elected in July in a vote boycotted by the opposition.

In a statement Monday, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price called for all sides in Burundi to reject violence and take part in an internationally mediated dialogue, outside the country, to resolve the crisis.

He said the United States may impose sanctions on others who block peace efforts or resort to violence.

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