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US Envoy Warns Burundi Attacks Risk a New Cycle of Violence

 Aug 7, 2015
By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press

The United States’ U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power warned Friday that “horrible attacks” on both sides in Burundi risk creating “a cycle of violence and a spiral of violence.”

The capital Bujumbura has been hit by violence since April when the ruling party announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek re-election for a third term. Nkurunziza was re-elected last month in elections widely condemned as unfair.

Tensions escalated following Sunday’s assassination of a top military general, Adolphe Nshimirimana, and Monday’s attempted assassination of a top human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who had spoken out against a third term for the president.

Power urged the government and opposition to participate in internationally mediated talks to come up with political arrangements “that will calm tempers, allow civil society and independent media to be reconstituted, and to operate freely in the country.”

“Those attacks must stop,” she said. “There is going to need to be a political place for those on both sides upset about the violence or upset about the political conditions to channel their energies.”

Power said the United States and many other countries are looking at possible visa or travel bans and other measures “against those who are responsible for carrying out gross violations of human rights or … murderous attacks.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also warned after this week’s attacks that the growing politically motivated violence “must be broken before it escalates beyond control,” his spokesman said.

The U.N. chief stressed that accountability and “a genuine and inclusive political dialogue are the best response to such attempts to destabilize Burundi,” the spokesman said.

In a phone call to Nkurunziza on Wednesday, Ban expressed “deep concern” at the impact of this week’s attacks and urged the president to resume the political dialogue which has been suspended since July 19, the spokesman said.

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