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BURUNDI - France

RFI Burundi correspondent threatened after minister's attack

RFI and AFP Burundi correspondent Esdras Ndikumana
RFI and AFP Burundi correspondent Esdras Ndikumana Social media

The French foreign ministry has called on Burundi's government to guarantee press freedom after threats against RFI correspondent Esdras Ndikumana. Ndikumana, who also works for the AFP news agency, was accused of promoting violence by a Burindian minister.

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Two pro-government civil society figures on Tuesday issued serious threats against Ndikumana on Twitter after Burundi's Public Security Minister General Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni named him in an attack on journalists and activists who have displeased his government.

"The ministry forcefully condemns everyone who, knowingly getting ahead of the normal course of inquiries, devotes themselves to attributing every criminal act to whoever they want to justify their preferences, interests and thinly veiled political convictions like the journalist Esdras Ndikumana and certain activists on social media with the goal of dividing Burundians and promoting crime and violence," Bunyoni said.

French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal on Wednesday said France condemned the threats.

"It is essential that journalists are able to exercise their profession in total independence and security," he said.

He added that Paris "calls for commitments announced in February by Burundian authorities to resolve the crisis to be fully implemented, including the reopening of all independent media".

RFI said in a statement that it was "outraged and concerned" that its Burundi correspondent had been accused "without any basis".

Burundi has been plunged into crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 that he was running for a third term.

He was reelected last July. 

The violence has left more than 500 people dead and forced more than 270,000 Burundians to flee the country, according to the UN.

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