BURUNDI, Sep 8- Gunmen in Burundi shot dead the spokesman of a small opposition political party, whose president was killed during the height of anti government protests in May, police said Tuesday.
Patrice Gahungu, spokesman of the Union for Peace and Democracy (UPD), was “shot dead by unidentified people” as he arrived home late on Monday evening, deputy police chief Godefroid Bizimana told AFP.
The death is the latest in a series of killings in the country, where tensions remain high following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election.
The president won a highly controversial third term in July in polls the United Nations said were not free or fair, and which sparked an attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups who condemned his re-election bid as unconstitutional.
There has also been a string of killings since his re-election, including the assassination of his top security chief in a rocket attack last month.
UPD president Zedi Feruzi was shot dead in May, amid weeks of protests at Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in power.
UPD official Chauvineau Mugwengezo, now honorary president of the party but who is exiled, accused the government of being behind the killing.
“This heinous crime is part of a series of assassinations targeting all those who dared to say that his third term is illegal,” he told AFP, adding that the UPD was targeted because it had previously taken in members of the ruling party who had split from Nkurunziza.
But a police source said the UPD spokesperson may have been killed by the opposition because “he had publicly congratulated President Nkurunziza for his re-election, which had attracted the wrath of his camp.”
Nkurunziza won over 69 percent of the vote in July’s presidential election, giving him a landslide first round victory. The poll, however, was boycotted by the opposition.
Burundi’s constitution only allows a president to be elected twice — for a total of 10 years in power but Nkurunziza argued ahead of the poll that he had only been directly elected by the people once.
In power since 2005, when he was selected by parliament, he was re-elected in 2010.