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Burundi's opposition leader Agatha Rwasa laments abduction of party members

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Burundi's main opposition party, CNL is raising the alarm over what it describes as broad daylight abduction of a number of people on Friday 9 July in front of witnesses.

After the latest grenade attacks in the city of Bujumbura, armed ambushes on the roads such as the one in Rutegama, Muramvya province towards the centre of the country, which left more than ten people dead, abductions have followed, leader of the party, Agathon Rwasa has said.

The most targeted were members of the CNL party (National Congress for Freedom) and we now have forced disappearances of some local leaders of the party. This to Rwasa is a huge source of concern.

Elie Ngomirakiza, one of the leaders of this party in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura province, western Burundi, is reported to be missing, and some dead bodies were discovered, according to a statement from the party.

"Why is it that in a country where the death penalty has been abolished, when someone is arrested, they are not brought before the courts so that the justice system can decide on their case?" Rwasa lamented.

And if the Constitution of Burundi recognises multiparty system, and if the CNL is an approved party in accordance with that law, why should our militants, our supporters be treated in this way? I am talking about all these other people who are reported missing here or there, who are found killed here or there, and that each time we hasten to bury instead of conducting investigations to identify the victims in order to be able to trace the perpetrators of the crime? Agathon Rwasa, opponent and president of the CNL.

To those who might think that he (Agatha Rwasa) would be closely or remotely linked to those who set up these ambushes, his answer is very clear. He simply asks for the release of all prisoners of conscience, the party said.

"We're used to it. But I think it's foolish for someone to attribute these kinds of things to me. In any case, when I said to myself that I had to go to war, I went to war. It's not just talk. It would be clumsy to do so. If we are in a democracy, we have to fight with ideas. In a democracy, we must not be afraid of the opposition. Let everyone be respected and let the dignity of each citizen remain inviolable. If someone is at fault, there are courts for that. And to have the right to fair justice. Justice must be independent. We must free all these prisoners of conscience from all sides". the party statement read.

For the latest armed ambush in Rutegama, about 70 km from Bujumbura, towards Gitega, the political capital, no official toll has been provided by government authorities.

The Ministry of the Interior, Community Development and Public Security simply indicated, via a tweet, that there were dead men and burned vehicles.

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