AU warns of Burundi ‘catastrophe’

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The African Union warned on Sunday of potential “catastrophic consequences” for troubled Burundi and the wider region if rivals do not resolve political differences peacefully.

A riot policeman and military officers hold their position near civilians following recent clashes between protesters and riot-police in Burundi's capital Bujumbura

One day after the former head of Burundi’s army during its 13-year civil war was assassinated, further fuelling fears of a new conflict, AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called for “utmost restraint” by all sides.

“This despicable act, and multiple other acts of violence recorded in recent months, illustrates yet again the gravity of the situation in Burundi – and the real risk of seeing a further deterioration with catastrophic consequences both for the country itself, and for the whole region,” Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.

Violence erupted in Burundi in April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his now successful but controversial bid for a third term in power, despite weeks of protests and a failed coup against him.

 Colonel Jean Bikomagu, a key figure in the former Tutsi-dominated army, was gunned down on Saturday in his car by unidentified assailants in the capital Bujumbura.

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