US calls for peace, 1 protestor shot dead in Burundi

President Pierre Nkurunziza addressing the nation, Wednesday

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid has sparked off massive protests in the country

The US State Department is calling upon all Burundians to refrain from violence and resolve the current crisis in Burundi through dialogue.

In a press statement released today on the crisis shaking Burundi, the US State Department “strongly condemns the May 23 killing of the leader of the opposition party Union for Peace and Development (UPD), Zedi Feruzi, and his bodyguard,” and “the May 22 grenade attack in a market that killed several people and wounded many more,”

The United States wants to see the Burundian government conduct timely and credible investigations and bring to justice the perpetrators.

Urging Burundi government to take concrete steps that would ensure the safety of political actors during the electoral process, the United States makes an appeal for political space needed for peaceful and credible elections, through especially respect for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression.

The US exhorts the Burundian government to allow immediate resumption of broadcasts by independent radio stations, end the use of the term “insurgents” to refer to peaceful protesters, and withdraw the proclamation by the Burundian National Security Council prohibiting future demonstrations.

Meanwhile, despite a warning issued by the National Security Council on Friday last week threatening protesters to halt the anti-3rd term bid campaign, demonstrations have continued in several parts of the country. One protester was shot dead by the police in Mugamba Commune in the southern province of Bururi, one of the provinces outside of the capital Bujumbura in which protests are growing.

In Bujumbura, clashes between security forces and protesters continued in several parts of the capital today, whereby the police used live bullets to disperse protesters who had barricaded the streets.

As all partners urge for dialogue to solve the crisis, the government of Burundi says dialogue over the President Nkurunziza’s 3rd term candidacy is a nonstarter.

“The government of Burundi does not accept any dialogue that goes against the constitution, which allows President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for this term,” said Philppe Nzobonariba, the government spokesman.

In the press statement issued this Monday, Philippe Nzobonariba insisted the current demonstrations have no other objective than provoking the government and plunging the country in the abyss.

The United States says it continues to monitor closely the situation in Burundi and is prepared to take additional measures against those who commit, incite or ‎promote violence or other human rights abuses and violations.