The Burundian government has announced the killing of at least 22 of its citizens identified as “wrongdoers” in the hills overlooking the main city of Bujumbura. They claim to have killed them last week in what was described as violence linked to a presidential election scheduled for May. 

According to comments by the authorities, 2 members of the police force were killed. However, 6 of the people who carried out the attacks were captured. This announcement which was made on Tuesday, 25th of February, 2020 is nothing short of human rights abuse.

“Wrongdoers took advantage of this electoral period thinking people are distracted,” a statement by police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye, on the state broadcaster RTNB reads. The spokesman also said that “the population should remain calm because security officers are ensuring the country’s security.”

The election in May will see the appointment of a successor to the current President, Pierre Nkurunziza. Nkurunziza was a former rebel leader who has held power since 2005 and his three terms in office have been characterised by periodic violence. The international community has constantly accused his government of human rights abuses, but it always denies the allegations.

In April 2015, president Nkurunziza made a decision to run for a 3rd unconstitutional term. A report by Crisis Group indicates that the President’s move sparked massive protests in the country against a decision that undermines the supremacy of the Burundian constitution with the government being violent and oppressive. 

The civil unrest gradually deteriorated into conflicts that had become difficult to resolve, affecting both the economy and living conditions of Burundians. About 400, 000 people have been estimated to have fled the African country. All these challenges are peculiar to this government because of its non-inclusive nature. But the Crisis Group is seeking a reduction on the risk of civil war, mass atrocities and regional proxy conflict. They are also advocating for a credible, internationally-mediated national dialogue and a return to inclusive constitutional rule.

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