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UN warns of mounting political crisis in Burundi


Geneva -The UN human rights office said on Friday that Burundi’s leaders need to renounce violence and resume their dialogue to prevent the country’s political crisis from escalating.
Tensions have been high in Burundi since late April when President, Pierre Nkurunziza, decided to seek a third term in office.
His opponents and Western powers say the move violated the constitution and which triggered a failed coup in May.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a news conference in Geneva that no fewer than 96 people had been killed since the start of election-related violence in April.
The violence has continued since Nkurunziza was re-elected on July 21.
Shamdasani said no fewer than eight members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party had been shot dead by gunmen in the past two weeks.
In early August, a human rights activist who openly opposed Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term was also shot and seriously wounded.
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“Burundi has been slipping closer to the edge … we call on leaders on all sides to take concrete steps to renounce the use of violence and to resolve differences peacefully,” Shamdasani said.
She said there had been no fewer than 60 cases of people being tortured in police and intelligence services custody, adding that the number of those killed, detained or tortured might be much higher.
A Burundi government spokesman said those involved in torture and killing were acting on their own accord and `will be prosecuted and punished accordingly’.
He gave no details of any arrests.
The UNHCR says no fewer than 181,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries due to the violence. (Reuters/NAN)

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