World Bulletin / News Desk
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein on Tuesday expressed concern about a possible upsurge in violence in Burundi during Thursday’s controversial constitutional referendum.
Last Friday 26 people, among them 10 women and 11 children, became the victims of an attack launched by unidentified armed men on the village of Ruhamagara in the Cibitoke Province, some 60 kilometers north-west of the capital Bujumbura.
There are very differing accounts as to who the attackers were and what their motive was, al Hussein said.
“It may have been political or it may have been carried out for other reasons, including revenge. Local residents have reported the men wore military uniforms, but this does not necessarily indicate who they were,” he said.
A referendum is set to take place on May 17, 2018 in Burundi, and if President Pierre Nkurunziza wins it, it would allow him to extend his rule until 2034 although he is already serving a controversial third term.
“Burundi is awash with rumors, political negotiations are deadlocked, and tensions are rising sharply in the wake of this attack, with many dreading what may happen during and after Thursday’s referendum.
“Everyone will suffer if Burundi explodes into violence during or after the referendum,” al Hussein added.
He also called on the Burundian government “to live up to its responsibilities to provide the people of Burundi with peace, security and a fully functioning democracy where everyone’s human rights are observed, and the rule of law is applied equally to all. ”
The unrest in Burundi started in April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a controversial third term whereas only two terms are allowed by the constitution.
The crisis so far has led to hundreds of deaths and forced hundreds of thousands to flee the country and seek refuge in neighboring states, according to the UN.
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