Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

International outcry over Burundian rights activist shooting

Leading human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who publicly opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial and successful bid for a third term last month, was shot as he made his way home from work in the capital on Monday by a gunman on a motorbike. 

“His condition is stable, and has even slightly improved,” a family member said on Tuesday. 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “the assassination attempt” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. “This incident… is part of a growing pattern of politically-motivated violence in Burundi that must be broken before it escalates beyond control,” Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Several diplomats, including from the United States and France, as well as African Union officials, were at Mbonimpa’s hospital bedside during the night until the arrival of the police. 

The shooting followed Sunday’s killing in a rocket attack of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, who was widely seen as the central African nation’s de-facto internal security chief. 

The attacks come just over a week after Nkurunziza was declared the outright winner of a controversial presidential election, securing a third consecutive term despite opposition protests and international condemnation.   

‘Attempted murder’    
Nkurunziza’s candidacy was condemned as unconstitutional by the opposition and provoked months of protests that left at least 100 people dead in a fierce government crackdown, as well as an attempted coup in mid-May. 

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma condemned the attack and wished Mbonimpa “a speedy recovery”, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the government to ensure his safety. 

“We are shocked at this blatant attack on one of Burundi’s most prominent and respected activists,” said HRW’s Africa chief Daniel Bekele.  “The Burundian authorities should take immediate steps to secure Mbonimpa’s safety and protection.” 

Amnesty International condemned the “brazen attack” it said was part of “a disturbing escalation” of violence. 

Dlamini-Zuma also called on the government to investigate the “attempted murder” as well as “all other such killings”, including the assassination on Sunday of Nshimirimana, a close aide to Nkurunziza. 

Brink of war
In Brussels, the EU said the attack showed the security situation to be deteriorating sharply and called on the authorities to ensure Mbonimpa’s safety. “All sides in Burundi must show restraint and seek dialogue. Violence, from whatever quarter, will not help get the country out of the current political impasse,” the EU’s foreign affairs arm said in a statement. 

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank said the attacks represented a dangerous escalation in violence pushing Burundi to the brink of war. “There is a qualitative change in the violence,” said the ICG’s Thierry Vircoulon. 

After Nshimirimana’s killing, prominent Burundian journalist Esdras Ndikumana – who works for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France Internationale (RFI) – was badly beaten. 

The political crisis in Burundi has seen independent media outlets shuttered and many journalists flee the country or go into hiding because of threats and attacks.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

More top stories

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

Children’s education in sub-Saharan Africa cannot wait

Children are being deprived not only of education, but also nutrition. Governments and the international community must secure these inalienable rights

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Clashes in Tunisia after president ousts PM amid Covid protests

Street clashes erupted Monday outside Tunisia's army-barricaded parliament, a day after President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended the legislature, plunging the young democracy into a constitutional crisis
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×