Burundi police arrest opposition leader for insurrection after meeting with African ministers News
Burundi police arrest opposition leader for insurrection after meeting with African ministers

[JURIST] Burundi authorities arrested political opposition leader Audifax Ndabitoreye on Wednesday shortly after he met with East African Community (EAC) [official website] ministers in the capital city of Bujumbura. Ndabitoreye was arrested for insurrection [Guardian report], and the police displayed an arrest warrant to journalists as he was taken into custody. The EAC is the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Leaders from the EAC traveled to Burundi on Wednesday to assist with the political and social unrest in the country, following a ruling from the nation’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday that approved President Pierre Nkurunziza’s request to run for a third presidential term [JURIST report] despite the two-term limit on the office of the presidency in the state’s constitution. The level of protests and social unrest has seen a dramatic increase since Tuesday’s court ruling, and eyewitness accounts report the use of live ammunition and grenades [Guardian report] to dispel protesters in the capital. At least 40,000 people have fled Burundi in recent months, and the threat of regional social and economic harm [BBC report] has compelled neighboring states to take action.

Political unrest in Burundi has divided the country and many citizens have fled the country, following Nkurunziza’s declaration that he intends to seek a third term in office. Burundi has also been criticized for human rights violations and limitations on freedom in the last few years. Earlier this week the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern [JURIST report] over actions by Burundi authorities ahead of its upcoming presidential elections in June. In April the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to the upcoming elections in Burundi as a critical moment in the nation’s history [JURIST report], with an opportunity to choose free and fair elections to “strengthen and mature Burundi’s still fragile democracy, and enable an improvement in its dire socio-economic situation.” Also in April, the OHCHR expressed concern over the limits placed on freedom of expression [JURIST report] in Burundi following the arrest of Bob Rugurika, director of Radio Public Africaine (RPA).

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