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Jacques Bihozagara’s Death Continue to Bring some Question Marks, Rwanda Demands Reports of his Death

A retired senior Rwandan politician who died in a Burund’s jail where he was being held on suspicion of spying, both countries said on Thursday, adding to cross-border tensions that have escalated dangerously in recent months.

The politician, Jacques Bihozagara, a former Rwandan ambassador to France and Belgium, as well as a former government minister, died on Wednesday in a jail in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, where he had been held on espionage charges since December.

However,” Elie Ntungwanayo, a spokesman for Burundi’s Justice Ministry said on Thursday was corted saying “We assume he had a hypertension, and plan to carry out an autopsy today.

Rwanda called the death suspicious.
The Rwandan government demands explanations about Bihozagara’s death.

“Jacques Bihozagara was one of many Rwandans in Burundi who died violently or suspiciously in the past months,” said a Rwandan Foreign Ministry official, Eugene Ngoga.

In Washington, the State Department said Mr. Bihozagara’s death highlighted concerns about reports of arbitrary arrests and torture in Burundi, and urged its government to allow monitors from the African Union and other organizations to investigate allegations of human rights abuses.

Burundi has been in political turmoil since last April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term, leading to street protests, a failed coup and an exodus of refugees across the border to Rwanda.

Burundi, where Mr. Nkurunziza eventually won re-election, accuses Rwanda of supporting a rebel group recruiting members in the refugee camps with the aim of bringing down the Burundian government, an accusation dismissed by Rwanda.

In February, a Human Rights Watch report described widespread abuses by Burundian security forces of suspected opponents.

Along with a border, Rwanda and Burundi share a legacy of violence and bloodshed between their two largest ethnic groups, the Tutsis and the Hutus.

By Robert Muriisa.

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