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Burundi Police Deny Attempt to Arrest Opposition Leader

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon (l) and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza (file)

Official dismisses as 'rumor' reports that security agents want to arrest Agathon Rwasa, leader of the main opposition National Forces of Liberation (FNL) party

An official of Burundi’s national police has dismissed as “rumor” reports that security agents want to arrest Agathon Rwasa, leader of the main opposition National Forces of Liberation (FNL) party.

Police spokesman Pierre Chanelle Ntarabaganyi said there is no reason to arrest the opposition leader.

“It is a rumor. There is no warrant to arrest him and there is no reason at all to arrest him [Rwasa],” he said.

But, Jean Bosco Habyarimana, spokesman of the FNL, said agents of the intelligence police in civilian clothes went to the opposition leader’s house, sealed it off and then attempted to enter it by force.

He also said that hundreds of FNL supporters surrounded the opposition leader’s house to prevent his arrest after hearing reports that the police were going to arrest him.

But, police spokesman Ntarabaganyi dismissed the arrest allegation.

“People started going to his dwelling just staying to protect him. And, the police went on the spot to see, to analyze the situation [but], right from there, they started to conclude that the police were trying to arrest him. But, it was quite a rumor and a rumor. But, we tried to negotiate with the people so that everyone can go home, but they didn’t hear us,” Ntarabaganyi said.

This comes a day after leaders of a coalition of opposition parties called on their supporters to boycott the June 28 presidential election.

The group, known as the Alliance of Democrats for Change, is demanding a re-run of the last local election after it claimed the vote was fraught with irregularities.

Leonard Nyangoma, a leading member of the group was quoted as saying "we have told our militants not to go and cast their ballots for presidential elections because the communal ones held on May 24 were characterized by massive fraud and irregularities.”

Several opposition groups, including the FNL, pulled out of the upcoming presidential election after accusing the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of being biased towards incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party – a charge both the ruling party and CENI deny.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Ntarabaganyi said several FNL supporters were arrested after “they broke the law.”