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UN concerns about political environ-
ment for credible elections in Burundi 

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Monday said that the political environment in Burundi is not conducive to credible elections.

Michel Kafando, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Burundi, said at a Security Council meeting on Burundi that the political situation “remained tense” in the country and was characterized by some measures to restrict freedom, as only the majority party and allied political groups could freely conduct political activities.

He said the economic situation was not improving in this political context, adding such an environment “can’t be conducive to the organization of credible elections.”

Kafando noted that the security situation was improving, although human rights violations continued to be reported.

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, assuming office since 2005, is leading a push for a referendum in May on amending the constitution that would allow him to run in elections in 2020.

In a report presented to the council this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized Nkurunziza’s move to hold a constitutional referendum, saying changes to the charter must be done in an “inclusive” manner.



Burundian ruling party official killed by soldiers

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- A local official of Burundian ruling party was killed early Monday by two soldiers in a village of Gitega Province in central Burundi, said a provincial official and the police.

Evariste Ngenzi, secretary of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) of the Mutoyi village in Bugendana district, was shot dead when taking drinks along with his party mates in a bar at the village by two soldiers based at the Mutoyi military post around 2:30 a.m., said Beatrice Bukuru, administrator of Bugendana district.

Early investigations show that one of the soldiers found Ngenzi and his party mates by midnight upon the latter arriving at the bar, said Bukuru. People at the bar heard that the soldier said the latter were members of ruling party’s youth league Imbonerakure who were coming from the party activities and vowed to kill one of them, she said.

She added that the soldier then went to the military post and came with his colleague to the bar. The two soldiers then urged people at the bar to lie down, said the administrator.

Ngenzi refused, arguing that they had done nothing wrong, she said, adding that the soldiers who had a stick began to beat him. Ngenzi attempted to run and they shot him 15 bullets and he died on the spot, according to her.

Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said that the two soldiers have been arrested for further investigations.


Burundi rejects UN report on country’s food crisis

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- The Burundian government on Wednesday rejected a report by UN humanitarian agency OCHA that claimed 3.6 million Burundian citizens are facing a food crisis.

“On Monday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) presented a report on Burundi’s 2018 humanitarian response plan showing that the country’s food security situation is alarming. The Burundian government rejects this report full of fabricated figures,” said Burundian Government Spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba.

OCHA did not collaborate with involved ministries including the interior ministry, human rights ministry, health ministry and agriculture ministry while writing the report, said Nzobonariba.

He said OCHA presented figures of people facing a food crisis in an “exaggerated” manner, underlining that this is not the first time.

“The government is surprised because the food security situation in 2018 is far better than that of 2017 considering efforts made in the sectors of agriculture, health and repatriation of refugees where interesting results are visible,” said Nzobonariba.

The OCHA’s figure of people facing a food crisis accounts for about one third of Burundi’s total population. Women and children are the most affected by the food crisis, according to the report.

The report also said that the number of Burundian citizens in need of humanitarian assistance has increased by 18 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

The report said the increase was due to poverty, deterioration of the socioeconomic situation, malnutrition, poor access to treatment and climate change.


Three die in church building collapse in SW Burundi

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Three women died and six other people seriously injured after a church building collapsed on Monday in the Burundian southwestern Rumonge province, the governor of Rumonge said Tuesday.

The incident happened in the Kagongo village in the Kizuka zone around 6 p.m. during heavy rains mixed with a violent wind, said Juvenal Bigirimana.

“During prayers, the Kagongo Pentecostal church building collapsed while worshippers were inside. Walls fell on them and three women died on the spot, six other people were seriously injured,” said Bigirimana.

He said violent wind first unroofed the church building before walls could collapse, adding that the two actions were almost simultaneous.

Besides human casualties, over 300 houses were damaged during those heavy rains hitting Kagongo, said the governor, adding that an unknown number of hectares of crops were also destroyed by the rains.

Homeless victims were Monday night sheltered by their neighbors whose houses were not affected by the disaster, said the governor, who also called on charitable people and organizations to assist the victims in terms of food and iron sheets in rehabilitating their houses.



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