Burundi Opposition party leader Arrested for “endangering state security”

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The leader of an opposition party in strife-torn Burundi has been arrested and accused of “endangering state security”, Burundian police said on Thursday.

Gervais Niyongabo, president of the opposition Fedes-Sangira party, was arrested on Wednesday in Makamba in southern Burundi and also accused of “participation in armed gangs”, police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye said on Twitter.

Niyongabo is one of the last remaining opposition leaders in the country.

Most of the others have gone into exile since the government launched a crackdown on opponents after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a controversial third term.

Nkurikiye said Niyongabo was being held by the National Intelligence Service, a security force accused by human rights groups of multiple abuses including torture.

Burundi has been in the throes of a political crisis since April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced plans to run for another term in office, a move opponents said was unconstitutional and threatened the peace deal that ended the 1993-2005 civil war.

The ensuing violence has claimed more than 500 lives and forced nearly 300 000 to leave the country.

UN investigators this week accused the government of systematic human rights violations, including executions and torture, with some that could “amount to crimes against humanity.”

Thousands of people have been tortured, suffered sexual abuse or disappeared, while arbitrary detention has happened “on a massive scale”, a report by the three independent investigators said.

Source: AFP