Burundi names head of ruling party militia to lead state broadcaster

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Burundi has appointed the head of the ruling party youth league to head its state-run broadcaster, a move an opposition party has described as a danger to press freedom.

In a presidential decree signed on July 3 and seen by Reuters on Sunday, President Pierre Nkurunziza said he had appointed Eric Nshimirimana to be the director-general of the National Radio Television of Burundi (RTNB).

Hundreds of Burundians have been killed in clashes with security forces and half a million have fled since Nkurunziza said in 2015 he would run for a third term in what his opponents saw as a breach of the constitution. He won re-election.

Human rights groups have in the past raised concerns that Imbonerakure, the youth wing of Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party, have been used to cause violence against anyone perceived to be opposed to Nkurunziza.

The government dismisses the charge, saying the group was purely political and accused opponents of stirring up tensions in a nation that emerged from an ethnically charged civil war in 2005.

The deputy chairperson of the opposition Frodebu party, Léonce Ngendakumana said the appointment could point to Nkurunziza planning to seek another term in office in 2020 election and now the ruling party will get more dominant coverage.