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Burundi's civil society groups suspend dialogue with gov't

BUJUMBURA, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Burundi's civil society organizations on Sunday announced their withdrawal from dialogue with the government following Saturday's assassination of opposition leader Fed Ferusi and persistent attacks against protest leaders.

The announcement was made by Vital Nshimirimana, the spokesman for the Forum for Civil Society Reinforcement (FORSC), a grouping of 143 Burundian civil society organizations, which initiated the current protests against a third term bid by President Pierre Nkurundiza.

"Civil society organizations will no longer participate in dialogue as long as the government continues to hold this bellicose attitude, similar to that of terrorists," FORSC said in the statement.

FORSC made the announcement just a day after the death of Zed Ferusi, the president of opposition party, Union for Peace and Democracy (UPD-Zigamibanga), who was assassinated on Saturday night near his home in Bujumbura by unknown men.

UPD-Zigamibanga is one of the opposition political parties involved in the campaign against Nkurunziza's third term bid.

FORSC further reiterated its determination to continue with protests on Monday against the president's third term bid.

"We are determined to continue with the fight until Nkurunziza renounces his attempt to contest for a third term," Nshimirimana affirmed.

The issue of a third term is non-negotiable, FORSC insisted, while at the same time expressing hope that the forthcoming East African Community Summit will come up with recommendations that will restore peace in Burundi.

According to FORSC, Nkurunziza's candidature violates the Constitution and the Arusha Peace Agreement that was signed in 2000 to end Burundi civil war.

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