Burundi’s environment minister has been assassinated in the capital Bujumbura. This is the first high-profile killing since the African nation sank into political turmoil in 2015.
Police have confirmed that 54-year-old Emmanuel Niyonkuru was shot dead shortly after midnight on Sunday. President Pierre Nkurunziza has promised that the assassination will not go unpunished. Niyonkuru was appointed as a minister in Nkurunziza’s cabinet in August 2015. He was also elected senator of the his electoral district, Muramvya, for the 2015-2020 term.
Niyonkuru worked as the deputy director of the Bank of the Republic of Burundi between 1992 and 2015. According to a police spokesperson, a woman has been arrested in connection with the killing. The country plunged into turmoil in April 2015 when President Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the Hutu tribe, sought a third term in office, despite a limit of two terms set by the constitution.
Burundi witnessed protests after the election results were announced in July of the same year. Protesters said that the presidential election lacked credibility and would eventually discredit the government. Two people were killed during violent demonstrations. Since the unrest, at least 500 people have been killed and 300,000 have escaped the country.