, BUJUMBURA, July 31- Burundi’s government on Thursday rejected reports the ruling party is carrying out a crackdown against the opposition ahead of elections, calling an Amnesty International report “biased and partisan.”
Amnesty this week accused the government of a “relentless campaign of intimidation” and a “sharp increase in politicized violence” linked to the ruling party, ahead of presidential elections next year.
But government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba dismissed the report as “outright lies”, and insisted political freedoms were respected in the country.
Nzobonariba in turn accused Amnesty of seeking to “inflame the situation as we approach the sensitive election period.”
The small nation in Africa’s Great Lakes region emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of presidential polls due in June 2015.
“It remains to be seen why it (Amnesty) wants to pour oil on the fire,” Nzobonariba added.
President Pierre Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, is believed to be planning a third term in office, which his opponents claim would violate Burundi’s constitution.
Amnesty has said the ruling CNDD-FDD party’s youth wing, known as the Imbonerakure, has strong links to the security service, accusing it of “perpetrating human rights abuses with impunity.”
A United Nations official was expelled in April after a confidential note reporting the distribution of weapons by the government to the Imbonerakure was leaked.