MS Risk Blog

Instability Continues in Burundi a Week After Presidential Elections

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Despite the election period in Burundi ending last week, with President Pierre Nkurunziza winning a controversial third term in office, the security situation in the capital city Bujumbura has remained fragile. On Sunday, a top Burundian general, and right-hand man to President Pierre Nkurunziza was killed in a rocket attack on his car. The latest incident in the country has prompted fears of further instability.

Police and eyewitnesses reported that General Adolphe Nshimirimana’s pick-up was hit by two rockets and sprayed with automatic gunfire in the capital Bujumbura on Sunday. The presidency’s communications chief, Willy Nyamitwe, confirmed that the general, a former army chief of staff and intelligence chief, had been killed. The general’s driver was also killed in the attack. Nshimirimana was widely seen as the country’s de facto internal security chief, with many considering him as the regime’s number two. The assassination comes just over a week after Nkurunziza was declared the outright winner of a controversial presidential election, effectively securing a third consecutive term despite opposition protests and international condemnation.

The killing of a top official has also sparked concerns of further instability in Burundi. In a statement, African Union (AU) Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma disclosed that she was “horrified” by the assassination. She condemned “this barbaric act that is likely to further destabilise the country,” and urged the Burundian government, opposition political parties and civil society “to work very closely together to find a lasting solution to the current crisis.” The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also condemned the attack, warning that it marked “a dangerous escalation of the violence in Burundi.”

Sources in the capital have warned that in the wake of the general’s killing, there may be possible revenge attacks. Police sources have reported that seven arrests were made, with a source in the country’s National Intelligence Service (SNR) stating that security forces were “nervous.” While there has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the assassination, plotters behind the recent failed coup have since regrouped and have launched a rebellion in the northern region of the country. They have also been linked to a string of grenade attacks that occurred in Bujumbura during the lead up to elections last month.

Shots were heard in the capital late Sunday, just hours after the general’s death. While late Monday, a leading rights activist was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in the capital city. Vital Nshimirimana has reported that Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, president of The Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons, was fired upon while walking home.

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