ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Burundi’s recent violence shows the country is at risk of sliding into chaos with catastrophic results for the Central African nation and surrounding countries, the African Union’s top official said Sunday.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission, was reacting to the assassination the day before of former military chief Jean Bikomagu, which came days after the killing of the president’s security adviser Lieutenant General Adolphe Nshimirimana.
In a statement Dlamini- Zuma stressed the need for dialogue to find a peaceful solution to Burundi’s crisis and preserve the gains the country has made since the end of its civil war in 2003.
Burundi has been rocked by violence since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his bid for a third term in office. Nearly 100 people died in street protests against Nkurunziza’s third term. Nkurunziza’s opponents say he is violating the constitution which limits the president two terms in office.
Nkurunziza won widely disputed elections last month which were criticized by the U.S. as lacking credibility because of the government’s harassment of opposition and civic leaders, closing down of media outlets, and intimidation of voters.
In recent weeks, opposition and government officials have been targeted. A day after Nshimirimana’s killing there was an attempted assassination of a human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who had spoken out against the president’s third term.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power warned a week ago that “horrible attacks” on both sides in Burundi risk creating “a cycle of violence and a spiral of violence.”
The U.N. Human Rights office Friday said that Burundi is “slipping closer to the edge” as killings, arrest and detentions increased following the Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election.
ELIAS MESERET, Associated Press
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.