Burundi Opposition Says Leaders Face Threats Before 2015 Polls

Members of Burundi’s opposition should be protected from politically motivated violence in the run-up to next year’s elections, an opposition spokesman said.

Threats have increased in recent weeks and opposition members plan to address the international community about the risks, Chauvineau Mugwengezo, the spokesman for the Alliance for Democratic Change, which groups 10 political parties, said in a July 15 interview in the capital, Bujumbura.

“Burundi’s government and the ruling party are behind the threats to opposition,” Mugwengezo said. He said a man with a pistol made threats at an opposition meeting held in the capital on July 12. Police spokesman Hermes Harimenshi said an investigation is under way into the incident.

The United Nations has urged Burundi’s government to respect freedom of expression in the months before 2015’s general elections. On June 27, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said the youth wing of the ruling party was increasingly involved in political violence.

First Vice President Prosper Bazombanza in May said Burundi’s government had made “significant efforts” to respect a road map agreed on by political leaders for next year’s polls.

Earlier this month, the government said it would lift its four-month suspension of the opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy. The party was suspended in March after clashes with police in the capital that left 15 people injured.

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