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EU urges Burundi to prosecute opposition leader's killers

25 may 2015, 11:32

 The EU on Sunday urged Burundi's government to prosecute the killers of an opposition leader and prevent the violence in the central African country from worsening, AFP reports.

The EU condemned Saturday's murder of Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the Union for Peace and Development, as well as a grenade attack that killed three people a day earlier, also in the capital Bujumbura.

"It comes down to the Burundian authorities to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes and take the necessary steps to prevent the political violence from spreading," said a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs and security policy.

"This must be done in respect for the human rights of all Burundians, including freedom of assembly, association and expression," the spokesperson told journalists by email.

Activists condemning the murder said in a statement they were "suspending participation in dialogue with the government" that had been supported by the United Nations and African Union.

They also said the murder could have been part of an alleged "plan to physically eliminate" leaders of the campaign against President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose bid for a third consecutive term had sparked mass protests.

The presidency, however, said it was "shocked" by the attack, in which a police bodyguard was also killed, and called for investigations, "so the guilty are brought to justice".

The EU urged increased African Union and other diplomatic efforts at reconciliation.

"The EU calls for restraint and urges all players to commit in good faith to the political dialogue undertaken for the last few days," the spokesperson said.

"We cannot let the country be taken hostage by those who want to move precipitously to elections without setting up the conditions necessary for peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Burundi," the spokesperson added.

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