Burundian opposition member Pontien Barutwanayo was shot and killed Sunday at a bar in Isale, about 18 miles east of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. Three others were injured in the attack, according to South Africa’s News24. Barutwanayo's killing marked the latest in ongoing political violence between Burundian opposition and President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling party.
Barutwanayo was a member of Burundi’s main opposition party, the National Liberation Forces, which boycotted the East African country’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Agathon Rwasa, the former leader of the National Liberation Forces, was elected as a deputy speaker of Parliament, which could provide the opposition a platform in restive Burundi. However, civil unrest over Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office has continued unabated since April.
Emmanuel Ndereyimana, a supporter of Burundi’s opposition, was gunned down last month outside his parent’s house in the Kinama area. His attackers were allegedly from the ruling party’s youth league, known as Imbonerakure. Ndereyimana was organizing street protests against Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for re-election, the Associated Press reported. Zedi Feruzi, the head of Burundian opposition party UPD, and his bodyguard were shot to death in the Ngagara district of Bujumbura in May. Although his political party was not the nation’s largest, Feruzi was a prominent figure among Burundi’s opposition, the Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, former army chief and Nkurunziza loyalist Col. Jean Bikomagu was shot and killed in his car Aug. 13, and his daughter was wounded. "Another black weekend in Burundi. Blackened by the murder of a high-ranking member of the Burundian army in retirement ... Very sad, very shocking," Burundi presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe posted on Facebook, according to AP.
Nkurunziza’s landslide victory in the June presidential polls fueled fresh protests and attacks in war-torn Bujumbura. Dozens have been killed since the elections, including both Burundian opposition supporters as well as a former army chief and a former intelligence chief. Despite the violence, Nkurunziza was sworn in during a low-key inauguration ceremony last week and the former Hutu rebel leader is expected to announce his cabinet soon, Reuters reported.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced by the political crisis that began in April when the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces announced Nkurunziza would run for a third term as president. Critics said Nkurunziza was violating the constitution and a peace deal that ended 12 years of civil war between the Burundi’s Hutu majority and Tutsi minority tribes.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have sought asylum in neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rumors have swirled that exiled Burundians have formed an armed opposition movement in Rwanda and are planning cross-border attacks on the ruling party.