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Burundian Opposition Figure Says Wife Victim of Assassination Attempt

FILE - Agathon Rwasa of Burundi.
FILE - Agathon Rwasa of Burundi.

The leader of Burundi’s main opposition said Sunday’s alleged assassination attempt on his wife is part of an overall plan by President Pierre Nkurunziza to secure a third term in office.

Agathon Rwasa, leader of the former Burundian rebel National Liberation Front (FNL) and head of the largest opposition, said his sources within Burundian intelligence services told him of the government’s plan.

Rwasa said the attempt proves Nkurunziza is determined to eliminate him, other opposition members, as well as civil society leaders to remain in power.

He added that time is running out on the president because the Burundian people have decided it is time for him to leave.

“There are plans to physically annihilate key leaders of the opposition and civil society organizations, and this is planned by high-ranking officers in the intelligence services of the republic. The plan is headed by General Adolph Nshimirimana, who is working hand in hand with General Munisa Mbonimpa,” he said.

Rwasa said the plan involves four teams to deal with critical key opposition figures starting with himself and journalists such as Bob Rugurika and civil society leaders, including Baggie Barankitse.

“The information has leaked from those ranks themselves and you can be assured that what I am telling you is true because, even those who attempted to assassinate my wife, were covered by police units so that they could escape from the area. So, this suggests to me that it is planned by the government,” Rwasa said.

Rwasa said his wife, Annonciate Haberisoni, was wounded by a gunman in an attack that took place at a hairdressing salon in the capital, Bujumbura. She has been discharged from a private hospital where she was treated.

“I am confident she is going to recover soon. Fortunately, the bullet didn’t penetrate. It just graced her head superficially,” Rwasa said.

Burundi’s deputy presidential spokesman Abayeho Gervais told VOA Nkurunziza was shocked to hear that Haberisoni had been the target of an assassination attempt. He said people should not rush to judgment as the police are working to identify and hold the culprits accountable.

“First of all, this is not the case for the President of the Republic of Burundi to explain simply because it is a police case. But, I would like to also [to say] the president of the Republic was shocked to hear that the wife of Agathon Rwasa [was the victim of] an assassination attempt. And efforts are underway to identify the culprits and bring them to justice,” Gervais said.

Gervais said Rwasa’s accusations that the government was behind the alleged assassination attempt are just mere accusations without proof.

“These are accusations that cannot be substantiated at all. If you have a proof of that, then we are encouraging them to come forward and present the proof,” Gervais said.

Rwasa said he’s always concerned about his personal safety.

“Many times I have got some strange messages and I have got tips from the police or intelligence to be very, very careful that there are some plans. I can just tell you that, even last Friday, I got some information which was likely to say that I must be careful and all the leaders of the opposition must be very, very careful, that there are plans of assassination,” Rwasa said.

Tensions have been high lately in Burundi where the opposition and some civil society have accused of Nkurunziza planning a third term in office, which would be in violation of the constitution.

Roman Catholic bishops in Burundi said recently that the constitution did not permit the president to run for a third term.

Gervais said said Nkurunziza will stand for a third term in the June 2015 election if he is chosen by his ruling CNDD-FDD party.

Gervais said there has only been a discussion to align Burundi’s constitution with those of other countries in the East Africa Community, of which Burundi is a member.

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