Burundi dismisses `crackdown` report as `outright lies`

Last Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 13:39

Bujumbura: 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 politicised 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.

Myanmar makes $2.3mn heroin bust in `Golden Triangle`

Rangoon: Myanmar authorities have seized 140 kilograms (310 lbs) of heroin packed into blocks and hidden in a car in the notorious "Golden Triangle" area near the Thai border, police said Thursday.


Two men were arrested in the border town of Tachileik in eastern Shan State during the bust, which netted drugs with a street value of $2.3 million, police told AFP.


"We seized 404 blocks of heroin weighing 140 kilograms," police colonel Myint Aung of the anti-narcotic department said. "It`s the largest seizure of heroin so far this year."


Opium, heroin and methamphetamine pills are frequently smuggled from Myanmar into Thailand, the gateway to the Southeast Asian narcotics market.


State-run newspapers confirmed the seizure, adding the arrested men were heavily armed with military rifles, several pistols and hand-grenades.


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says 10 percent of the world`s opium is produced in Myanmar, making it the second largest producer of the drug -- the base ingredient for heroin -- after Afghanistan.



Myanmar has pledged to crack down on drug production and smuggling, despite the challenges posed by policing vast, remote areas where armed ethnic rebel groups are often accused of using profit from narcotics to fund their operations.


Authorities torched some 1.3 tons of seized opium, 225 kilograms (500 pounds) of heroin and 1.2 tons of methamphetamine tablets last month to mark World Drugs Day.


Shan State is part of the "Golden Triangle", a region laced with smuggling routes that covers parts of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

AFP

First Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 13:39

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