Bujumbura (dpa) – The Burundian opposition has suspended its dialogue with the government after an opposition leader was shot dead, one of the main opposition parties said Sunday.
“The climate is not conducive for talks,” said Bernard Ndayisenga from the National Forces of Liberation (FNL).
Zedi Feruzi, leader of the small opposition party Union for Peace and Democracy (UPD), was gunned down as he was coming home on foot in Bujumbura late Saturday.
One of his three bodyguards was also killed, according to Radio France Internationale. Another bodyguard and a journalist who was accompanying him were injured.
The killers drove away. The presidency denied claims by witnesses that they had worn the uniforms of the presidential guard.
Thousands accompanied Feruzi’s coffin in silence on Sunday.
It was the first time that an opposition politician has been killed since demonstrations erupted on April 26 against Nkurunziza’s plans to seek a third term in the June elections, despite the constitution setting a two-term limit.
More than 25 people have been killed during the protests so far.
The opposition and civil society groups have been holding talks with the government on how to resolve the crisis.
But now, “the dialogue will only resume if the president abandons his third-term plans,” Ndayisenga said.
Protesters had announced a pause for the weekend, but some of them nevertheless erected barricades in Bujumbura, RFI reported.
The National Security Council on Saturday gave protesters three days to hand over arms stolen from police in the aftermath of a coup attempt which was foiled last week.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Feruzi’s murder as well as a grenade attack that killed two people during protests earlier this week.
The killing and the attack “threaten to entrench mistrust and trigger further violence,” Ban said through his spokesperson.
“These acts of violence constitute a stark reminder of the need for all Burundian political leaders to address the current political crisis with the highest sense of responsibility and to place peace and national reconciliation above partisan interests,” Ban said.
Nkurunziza has announced a postponement of legislative and local elections by 10 days to June 5, but did not postpone the controversial presidential elections, which are scheduled for June 26.