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Family of abducted Burundi opposition fears for his life

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After the abduction of Léopold Habarugira, a member of the political party-Union for Peace and Development [UPD] in the early morning of 12 September, his family says it is much concerned about his security. He was abducted in Mutanga-Nord in northern Bujumbura by a group of four people, one of them in police uniform.

Libérate Nzitonda, the spouse of the victim who was with him when he got kidnapped, says a black car with tinted windows and without license plate stopped in front of them. “Three guys and a man in police uniform, armed with a rifle, got off the car. They arrested us and forced my husband to enter their car before driving him away”, she says.

Mrs, Nzitonda says she immediately alerted the police, the National Independent Commission on Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

She says she is worried about his safety and thinks that things may go from bad to worse. “People are abducted, and afterwards found dead or reported disappeared. I am even more worried as my husband had miraculously escaped an attack in 2015 when unidentified people tried to kill him in vain. ”, she says.

Chauvineau Mugwengezo, the chairman of UPD party currently in exile, says the government continues to persecute members of the opposition. He reminds that his predecessor, Zedi Feruzi, and his spokesman, Patrice Gahungu were murdered in 2015. He also accuses the government of claiming to respect human rights while people continue to be abducted and killed. “The government must do whatever it takes to find him alive”, he says.

Pierre Nkurikiye, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security says the police are not yet aware of the arrest of Léopold Habarugira. “None of the police services is involved in his apprehension and nobody has filed a complaint or alerted the police to a case of kidnapping in Mutanga-Nord locality”, he says. Nkurikiye says the police will investigate the case when the family of Léopold Habarugira files a complaint; otherwise, nothing will be done.


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