Burundi coup plotter, authorities hit with EU sanctions

Brussels (dpa) - A former army general who backed a foiled coup attempt in May against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza was hit on Friday with EU sanctions, amid efforts to quell the violence in the eastern African country.

General Leonard Ngendakumana is among four people who have been banned from travelling to the European Union. Any assets they may have had in the 28-country bloc are also now frozen.

Ngendakumana has obstructed the search for a political solution in Burundi and is "responsible for acts of violence" such as grenade attacks, the EU said in its official journal.

"Ngendakumana publicly supported violence as a means to achieve political goals," it added.

The sanctions also target the Burundi authorities, however.

International human rights

The other people facing restrictive measures are the deputy director general of the national police, Godefroid Bizimana; the head of cabinet in the presidential administration responsible for matters relating to the national police, Gervais Ndirakobuca; and national intelligence officer Mathias-Joseph Niyonzima.

The EU said that Bizimana is "responsible for undermining democracy" by making decisions that led to "a disproportionate use of force and acts of violent repression" against peaceful demonstrations, which started in April after Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek a third term in office.

Defying months of violent protests, Nkurunziza went on to win a July election boycotted by the opposition. Violence has continued since then, with human rights groups putting the number of fatalities at about 100 since April.

Ndirakobuca issued instructions that led to the "disproportionate use of force, acts of violence, acts of repression and violations of international human rights law" against protesters, while Niyonzima incited "violence and acts of repression," the EU said.

It also accused Niyonzima of helping train, coordinate and arm the Imbonerakure, the ruling party's youth wing, which the opposition accuses of attacking government opponents.

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