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UN Condemns Killing of Burundi Opposition Leader

Relatives and friends gather around the covered body of Zedi Feruzi, the head of opposition party UPD, in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 23, 2015.
Relatives and friends gather around the covered body of Zedi Feruzi, the head of opposition party UPD, in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 23, 2015.

The U.N. Security Council has condemned the killing of an opposition leader in Burundi whose death has derailed efforts to resolve the country's crisis through U.N.-sponsored negotiations.

Zedi Feruzi of the Union for Peace and Development party was buried Sunday, a day after he and a bodyguard were shot to death in the capital, Bujumbura.

In a statement late Sunday, the Security Council condemned his killing and another deadly attack in Bujumbura last week. It called on authorities to try to prevent further violence while also respecting the freedoms of expression and free assembly.

The Security Council urged leaders to take part in political negotiations, but opposition leader Frederick Bamvuginyumvira said earlier Sunday that his party can no longer hold talks with the government.

"It is impossible," he said. "We have decided to leave the negotiations because they are of no use... the most urgent thing is to cease the killings we are seeing and the organized assassination of opposition leaders."

The spokesman of another opposition party said he cannot guarantee that anti-government protesters will stay peaceful.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned Feruzi's murder and is urging all parties to shun violence and work to resolve the crisis.

Burundi authorities have violently cracked down on anti-government protesters who are rallying against President Pierre Nkurunziza's announcement that he will seek a third term in next month's election. Critics say a third term would be unconstitutional and violate the two-term limit.

Nkurunziza insists he is eligible to run again because parliament, not voters, elected him to his first term in 2005.

His plan for another five-year term has plunged Burundi into its worst crisis since a 2006 peace deal ended more than a decade of civil war.

The government's violent reaction to the protests has killed more than 20 people, brought on a failed coup and sent more than 100,000 Burundians fleeing to safety in neighboring countries.

On top of the violence, the U.N. refugee agency says an outbreak of cholera has killed 31 Burundian refugees near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. An estimated 3000 other people have been sickened. Officials have brought in clean water and medicine.

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