Ex-rebel admits hiding

2010-06-30 14:35

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Bujumbura - Burundi's top opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said he has gone into hiding after learning that the government wanted to arrest him on charges that he planned to mount a new insurgency.

In a tape recording received by Reuters on Wednesday, former rebel leader Rwasa said he had also been threatened for rejecting last month's district polls, which are seen as a test of stability for the coffee-producing country of 8 million.

Rwasa is thought to be hiding in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, but officials in his Forces for the National Liberation (FNL) earlier said he was away for a couple of weeks on holiday.

Burundi's attorney general has said there is no warrant for Rwasa's arrest.

Rwasa's FNL came in second in the May 24 district election in which the ruling CNDD-FDD won 64% of the vote. The FNL and other opposition parties rejected the result, saying the vote was rigged.

"I got a lot of threats telling me if I do not accept the victory of the ruling party ... I will be arrested like former DRC deputy President Jean Pierre Bemba," Rwasa said.

"The government plans to jail me, pretending to have proof that I have distributed weapons with the aim of destabilising security in the capital Bujumbura. All this is nonsense."

Rwasa and another five opposition candidates boycotted presidential elections held on Monday, leaving incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza without a challenger.

"If they claim that they do not have any plan to arrest me, why did they send a dozen of intelligence agents to chase me in east of Congo where they thought I was?" questioned Rwasa.

He did not reveal his location.

Burundi has enjoyed relative peace since Rwasa's Forces for National Liberation (FNL), the last Hutu guerrilla group operating in the country, agreed to lay down weapons and join the government last year.

In recent weeks there have been a series of grenade attacks in the capital Bujumbura that have killed at least eight people and injured dozens more.

Results of the presidential vote are due to be released later on Wednesday.

Read more on:    burundi  |  agathon rwasa  |  east africa
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