Rwandan former minister “poisoned” in Burundi prison

"POISONED TO DEATH": former Rwandan minister, Jacques Bihozagara.

“POISONED TO DEATH”: former Rwandan minister, Jacques Bihozagara.

A former minister in Rwanda Mr. Jacques Bihozagara has died in Mpimba prison in the Burundian capital where he had been incarcerated, officials have confirmed.

According to multiple sources, the former Sports and Culture minister, who also once served as Rwanda’s ambassador to France suddenly died Wednesday after eating poisoned food.

Mr. Bihozagara was reportedly arrested in neighbouring Burundi last December on charges related to espionage.

Rwanda’s Ambassador to Burundi, Amandin Rugira, confirmed the former minister and diplomat’s passing on Twitter but indicated the embassy hadn’t learnt the cause of death.

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By press time, Burundi had not commented on the Mr. Bihozagara’s death.

Political observers say Bihozagara’s death is likely to heighten tension between Rwanda and Burundi.

Ties between Bujumbura and Kigali have worsened over the last several months with the former accusing the latter of fueling the prevailing conflict in Burundi by recruiting and arming Burundian refugees in Rwanda.

Rwanda has refuted the allegations on multiple occasions but Burundi insists it’s northern neighbour is partly to blame for the year-long turmoil.

Burundi’s accusations have been rather supported by advocacy groups’ and United Nations’ reports pinning Rwanda on the issue.

Afrika Reporter has learnt that until his arrest in December 2015, Mr. Bihozagara had been living and doing business in Burundi as a private citizen, but there had been reports he had fled his country. Before moving to Burundi, he was doing pig farming in Rwanda. After serving the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and his country in various capacities for several years, the former diplomat and minister eventually ran out luck. He eventually retired from politics and reportedly ventured into pig rearing.