Burundi politician escapes attempted assassination

Willy Nyamitwe. Picture: Getty Images/ AFP.
Willy Nyamitwe. Picture: Getty Images/ AFP.

A top adviser to Burundi’s president, and the most public face of the government, has escaped an assassination attempt, the latest political attack in the crisis-wracked nation.

Willy Nyamitwe was returning to his home in the capital Bujumbura on Monday night when he came under sustained gunfire and grenade explosions, a high-ranking presidential official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity, one of his bodyguards was killed and another wounded while Nyamitwe suffered slight wounds.

Nyamitwe is one of the most prominent voices in Burundi, who frequently criticises the West for interfering in the central African nation.

“I thank those who wish me a speedy recovery,” Nyamit we tweeted after the attack.

“I am doing well but saddened by the death of a best friend, the policeman Gasongo.”

His brother, Alain, Bur undi’s foreign minister, described the assassination bid as a new, pointless effort to disturb republican institutions.

Born in the early 1970s, when their father was killed in a wave of ethnic violence against Hutus by the Tutsi dominated army, the Nyamit we brothers have risen to become Bujumbura’s bulwark against an increasingly critical international community.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 500 people have been killed in the unrest and at least 300 000have fled the country, while several well-known figures, including high-ranking military officers, have been assassinated.

Burundi formally informed the United Nations in October that it intended to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

It also suspended cooperation with the UN human rights office.

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