September 8, 2015 / 2:17 PM / 3 years ago

Burundi opposition official shot dead in the capital: witnesses

People carry a Burundi flag during a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term, in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 25, 2015. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Gunmen have shot dead an opposition official in Burundi, witnesses said on Tuesday, the latest in a spate of killings after the disputed re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Witnesses heard gunshots in the capital Bujumbura’s Gasenyi district on Monday evening and then found Patrice Gahungu, a spokesman for the opposition UPD Zigamibanga party, dead in his car. A police officer said he was shot near his home.

“It is a political assassination because he had no problem with any one,” Clemence Nsabiyimbona, his wife, told Reuters. “In this country when you openly oppose the ruling party and the government, you are automatically an enemy worth being killed.”

Impoverished Burundi was plunged into a political crisis in late April when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, which opponents and Western powers said violated a peace deal that ended an ethnically charged civil war in 2005.

Protests in April and June left dozens dead and prompted tens of thousands people to flee.

In August, unidentified gunmen killed General Adolphe Nshimirimana, who was in charge of the president’s personal security. A local leader of the ruling party was also killed, while a prominent rights activist was shot and wounded.

Nkurunziza was sworn in on Aug. 20 for another five-year term. His party won a sweeping victory in a parliamentary vote.

New ministers were sworn in last month and some of them had been part of the opposition, drawing criticism from other opponents who said the cabinet was not legitimate.

Separately, police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said the dead bodies of a driver working for the ruling CNDD-FDD party and another man were found in an area that had been hotbeds of protests in Bujumbura. He did not give further details.

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