Burundi Opposition Halts Government Talks After Leader Shot

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Burundian political activists withdrew from talks with the government and resumed protests after the leader of an opposition party was killed in a drive-by shooting at the weekend.

The murder of Zedi Feruzi, chairman of the Union for Peace and Development, and his bodyguard on May 23 in the capital, Bujumbura, was “the plan of the ruling party,” Charles Nditije, leader of an opposition faction of the Uprona party, said by phone on Monday.

“We can’t talk with someone who is killing us,” Nditije said. President Pierre Nkurunziza ordered authorities to investigate and punish those responsible, according to a statement, while police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye denied his forces were behind the assassination.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Burundi to swiftly bring to justice those responsible both for Feruzi’s murder and a May 22 grenade attack in the city that killed two other people.

At least 20 people have died and 420 have been injured in unrest in Burundi since Nkurunziza signaled he will run for a third term in June 26 elections, a move his opponents say violates peace accords. At least 112,000 others have fled to neighboring countries, fearing a return to conflict in a nation where 300,000 people died in a civil war that ended in 2005, according to the UN Humanitarian Agency.

The African Union condemned the killing of Feruzi and the grenade attack, calling for an “independent and credible” inquiry into the incidents.