Burundi opposition MP accused of plot to kill president

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Pierre Nkurunziza (File: AFP)
Pierre Nkurunziza (File: AFP)

Burundi's public security ministry has accused a prominent opposition MP of planning the assassination of President Pierre Nkurunziza and other top officials, in an address on state television.

The authorities announced the arrest of a "commando unit" over the alleged plot to murder the president, his two deputies and the parliament speaker, in the televised statement late Thursday.

The spokesman for the public security ministry, Pierre Nkurikiye, accused Pierre-Celestin Ndikumana, of the Amizero y'Abarundi (Burundians' Hope) coalition, of being behind the plan.

Three alleged members of the commando unit were paraded on television during the address, including a man who was a domestic worker at Ndukimana's home for a few months in 2015.

"The details (of the plot) are on this piece of paper written by the criminal you have just seen (the domestic worker) while he was in the car of honorable Pierre-Celestin Ndikumana, who dictated it to him," said the spokesperson.

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Nkurikiye said the former domestic worker had confessed to being recruited by Ndikumana to carry out the assassinations, and also confessed to trying to kill a married couple of ruling party lawmakers at the beginning of October.

Parliamentary sources said that a procedure to lift Ndikumana's immunity would be launched soon, while Nkurikiye said a probe would seek to find others involved in the alleged plot.

Ndikumana told AFP the accusations were a "crude setup aimed at intimidating me and keeping me quiet".

Burundi has been locked in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 announced he would seek a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest that has left 1 200 dead and over 400 000 displaced.

Amizero y'Abarundi, led by former Hutu rebel Agathon Rwasa, is considered the main rival to Nkurunziza's ruling CnDD-FDD, and local NGOs as well as the United Nations have condemned a crackdown on their supporters.

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