NAIROBI (Reuters) - A U.S. decision to impose sanctions on four current and former Burundi government officials is scandalous and part of a campaign to vilify the African country, a Burundian presidential aide said on Thursday.
The White House said on Monday it would impose sanctions on the four, including the minister of public security and the leader of a failed coup, because of violence in Burundi, now mired in its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 2005.
“Putting the coup plotters and those who stopped it in the same box is scandalous and shocking,” presidential media adviser Willy Nyamitwe told reporters.
“If Burundi is being vilified that way, it’s because there are certain people who support this defamation campaign,” he said, accusing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, of being behind the alleged campaign.
Washington has been a vocal critic of the decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third term in office, which he secured in a disputed election in July.
The United States and other donors, as well as Nkurunziza’s opponents at home, say a third five-year term violates the constitution and a peace deal that brought the ethnically charged civil war to an end after killing 300,000 people.
A constitutional court ruled he could run again because his first term did not count as he was not elected by popular vote.
When Washington announced it was imposing sanctions, it cited multiple reports of targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and political repression by security forces in Burundi.
The government dismisses accusations of rights abuses and says it is facing armed terrorists and criminals.
Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Angus MacSwan