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Burundi Civil Society Leader Demands Protection for Citizens

FILE - Police drive by the scene of a grenade attack on a parked car downtown Bujumbura, Burundi, Monday July 20, 2015.
FILE - Police drive by the scene of a grenade attack on a parked car downtown Bujumbura, Burundi, Monday July 20, 2015.

The assassination of an army general is creating panic and confusion throughout Burundi, according to the leader of the Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society (FORSC).

Vital Nshimirimana said, “Now that a senior army office can be killed in the street, this is a matter of global concern from the population because they all know that they are not protected."

Until his assassination General Adolphe Nshimirimana was a top aide to President Pierre Nkurunziza. The general's car was reportedly hit in a rocket attack in the capital, Bujumbura on Sunday. He was a former intelligence chief and a former chief of staff.

Vital Nshimirimana added, "It is the duty of the government to protect the citizens including ordinary citizens and top officials of the administration, the army and in the judiciary and other nationals living in the [country].”

The civil society leader says violence increased after opponents protested Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term, a move they deemed undermined the constitution and the Arusha accord, which effectively ended the country’s civil war.

“We expect that the government should increase of all Burundians and [to] some extent try to resolve the underlying causes of this violence,” said Nshimirimana.

The assassination of General Nshimirimana followed the recent declaration of Mr. Nkurunziza as winner of the July 21 presidential election. The international community rejected the outcome of the vote saying it was not credible, citing among others violence and intimidation of opponents in the run up to the poll.

The opposition boycotted the election. But, Agathon Rwasa, main opposition leader from the National Liberation Forces (FNL) took his seat in parliament and was subsequently elected as the deputy speaker.

Vital Nshimirimana says the opposition leader has yet to explain his decision to those opposed to an Nkurunziza third term.

“We deeply respect his choice, this is a political choice, but many are disappointed [because] during the elections, he concurred with other politicians to call for the boycott of the elections. Now we are surprised to see that he has lost a lot of opportunities for local government members, if he had planned to run or participate in the elections, he would have gotten a lot of members of parliament and senators as well,” he said.

“So we are wondering whether he is supporting President Nkurunziza, which would be actually too strange because Rwasa is one of the key opposition leaders opposing the third term [of Nkurunziza].”

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