Burundian Opposition Coalition Elects New Leader After Dispute

An alliance of 25 opposition parties in Burundi elected Jean Minani as its new president, replacing Leonard Nyangoma after a disagreement over the formation of a government in exile, the ousted leader said.

The coalition that operates from Belgium and is known as Cnared was formed in August 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election for a third term as leader of the nickel-rich East African nation. Nyangoma said it had been difficult to manage 25 parties with differing objectives.

“In the beginning, there were those who were asking for the establishment of the government in exile, but I saw it was not possible,” he said by phone. “So they continued to fight against me until they elected a new leader.”

About 480 people have been killed and another 250,000 have fled to neighboring countries since violence erupted in Burundi in April 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he would run again for president. Opposition parties said his candidacy violated a peace accord that brought him to power a decade ago.

The International Criminal Court is planning a preliminary probe into the crisis. Advocacy groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say they have evidence that security forces have arrested, intimidated, tortured and caused the disappearances of political opposition figures.  

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