Burundi is on the brink of renewed violence over President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, the United Nations rights chief warns ahead of the country’s forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, told the Security Council on Thursday that the situation will slide into “devastating violence” again, if the pattern of politically motivated violence continues in the Central African nation. "Burundians appear to be braced for an explosion of the murderous violence that has so frequently engulfed the country," he said, warning that "the risk to human life, and to regional stability and development, is high" in the landlocked African state.
The official also noted that over the past two months, his office has documented dozens of killings, most of them shootings of human rights defenders and protesters by security forces as well as the militia known as Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party known by its French acronym, CNDD-FDD. He further cited reports of demonstrators being imprisoned and subjected to ill-treatment and torture in Burundi. Over 145,000 people have fled to neighboring countries due to "precise and targeted campaigns of intimidation and terror," the UN official added. Gervais Abayeho, a spokesman for President Nkurunziza, announced last month that the presidential poll will be held on July 15, while legislative votes will be on June 29.