Thursday, January 28, 2016

Burundi Opposition Urges Support for AU Intervention Force
2016-01-28 22:26

Brussels - Burundi's main opposition grouping on Thursday urged the international community and the African Union to approve plans to send an AU peacekeeping force to the strife-torn country despite President Pierre Nkurunziza's objections.

Burundi has been in turmoil since April when Nkurunziza said he would stand for a third term, a move the opposition said was illegal and breached an accord ending a horrific civil war which left 300 000 dead in the former Belgian colony.

"The risk is that hesitancy on the part of the international community to support the Burundi people could lead to the resurgence of armed groups," Leonard Nyangoma, head of the CNARED opposition group, told a press conference.

"If the international community holds back, then the Burundi people, in a legitimate act of self-defence, will certainly organise against the aggression of Pierre Nkurunziza, who has declared open war on his people," Nyangoma said.

The AU said Thursday it was determined to end the crisis in Burundi, with a summit on Saturday due to vote on sending a 5 000-strong peacekeeping force.

But Nkurunziza called last month for Burundians to "stand up to fight" if AU troops set foot in the country without permission, dubbing it an "invasion force".

The AU charter gives the pan-African bloc the right to intervene in a member state in "grave circumstances" where war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity are being committed.

Since Nkurunziza won the presidential elections in July, clashes between loyalists and the opposition have turned increasingly violent.

The UN has warned Burundi risks a repeat of the 1993-2005 civil war, with some 400 dead since April and at least 230,000 people fleeing to neighbouring countries.

CNARED warned that the international community and the AU must not shirk their responsibilities in Burundi.

If they do, they risk instability in the whole central African region, with tribal fault lines very close to the surface.

"This instability would only create even more refugees who would almost certainly seek refuge in the West," a statement said, picking up on the current migrant crisis in Europe.

African leaders to vote on Burundi force at summit

January 29, 2016

Addis Ababa – African leaders face an unprecedented vote on deploying a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to troubled Burundi despite the country’s vehement opposition when they meet for their annual summit this week.

While the official theme of the African Union meeting is human rights, leaders from the 54-member bloc will once again be beset by a string of crises across the continent when they meet at AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday and Sunday.

Discussions on the sidelines of the summit are expected to include stalled talks to end war and forge a unity government in South Sudan.

“This summit could and should be historic: it will be the first time that heads of state will vote on the deployment of an AU-led peacekeeping force to a country that has not agreed to its deployment,” said Stephanie Wolters of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think tank.

A two-thirds majority will be required to send the force, the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi, MAPROBU, although it remains unclear who would be willing to contribute troops to a mission Burundi has branded an “invasion force”.

However, the AU charter’s Article 4h gives the pan-African bloc the right to intervene in a fellow nation state “in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Street protests, a failed coup and now a simmering rebellion began when Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July elections.

Nkurunziza, who has not said if he will attend the summit, called last month on Burundians to “stand up to fight” if AU troops set foot in the country without permission.

But he also told UN envoys last week he guaranteed “there will not be a genocide” and insisted Burundi is “99 percent secure”.

African leaders are also expected to decide whether to scrap a Ugandan-led mediation effort that has yielded just one meeting between the government and the opposition in December. Possible UN-led mediation may be an alternative.

AU Peace and Security Council chief Smail Chergui, speaking last week after meetings with UN Security Council ambassadors, said it was crucial the international community “remain united on Burundi”, which has been gripped by violence since April.

More than 400 people have died since then and at least 230,000 have fled the country.

But with Nkurunziza unmoved by AU and UN appeals, there have already been moves to water down the proposed military force to that of an observer mission.

“In addition to Burundi’s lobbying efforts, many heads of states will be reluctant to set a precedent of AU troop deployment in a country that clearly rejects it,” said Yolande Bouka, also from ISS.

There are currently only a handful of AU observers in Burundi, and talks with the government on allowing dozens more have already run into difficulties.

AU leaders “must understand the urgency of the situation,” said Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador to the UN, warning that “there isn’t a real dialogue” between the rival sides.

The two-day summit, the first since leaders last met in Johannesburg in June 2015, will also aim to tackle conflicts across the continent, including the devastating two-year war in South Sudan that grinds on despite an August peace deal.

Islamist insurgencies in Mali and Nigeria, violence and political instability in Libya and the formation of a new government in Central African Republic (CAR) will be central issues.

Diplomatic sources suggest Chadian President Idriss Deby could be nominated for the one-year presidency which rotates between different regions of the continent, with this year being Central Africa’s turn.

In addition, all 15 members of the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) will be elected to the key body that drives AU decisions including military action, sanctions and peacekeeping forces.

AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma faces re-election in July, but debate has already begun as to whether she will choose to run again or instead seek political office back home in South               Africa.

Some diplomats have Algerian foreign minister and former AU Peace and Security Council chief Ramtane Lamamra as frontrunner to replace her. – AFP

African leaders trying to push Burundi to take peacekeepers: officials


African states are trying to push President Pierre Nkurunziza to accept peacekeeping troops at a summit this week to prevent Burundi sliding back into ethnic conflict but there is little hope that he will agree, officials said.

The African Union (AU) announced a plan in December to send 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi, where more than 400 people have been killed in worst violence since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.

Burundi swiftly rejected the plan, with Nkurunziza saying any such force would be considered an "invasion".

A senior AU diplomat said that African nations would try to persuade Nkurunziza to change his mind. "He is not expected to endorse the plan, however," the diplomat said.

Sanctions could be considered if Nkurunziza did not accept, he told Reuters before the AU meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, without giving any details.

The AU initiative highlights growing international worries that allowing Burundi's crisis to fester could start fighting again in a region where memories of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are still raw. Burundi and Rwanda share the same ethnic mix of a majority Hutu population and a Tutsi minority.

Diplomats from the U.N. Security Council visited Burundi last week, with some members seeking to push the president to accept. Samantha Powers, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said little was achieved in those talks and urged African nations to work "behind the scenes" to convince him.

If the AU sent in the force without Burundi's consent it would have to invoke Article 4 of the AU charter, which gives it the right to intervene in a member state "in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity".

Any deployment would follow final U.N. Security Council authorization.

"The stakes are extremely high for the African Union," Stephanie Wolters of the Institute of Strategic Studies told a briefing this month, noting that sending a force against Burundi's wishes could be seen as a "precedent that will frighten a number of African governments".

She said a phased deployment could make it more "palatable" for Burundi, with a small contingent initially protecting AU monitors sent last year to examine human rights and militia disarmament. They have yet to start work.

Bernard Membe, Tanzania's foreign minister until November and who remains an official in the ruling party, told Reuters his country could help persuade Nkurunziza, given it was peace talks hosted by Tanzania that put him in office in 2005.

"This is a crisis that should not be transformed into an ethnic crisis," he said. "It is better for the African countries, including Tanzania, to persuade the administration Burundi to comply and admit the AU intervention."

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Zimbabwe President Mugabe, AU Chair,  meets Burundi envoy

January 27, 2016
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe yesterday met a special envoy from Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza at State House in Harare where the African Union chairperson was appraised about political developments in that country.

Briefing journalists after a two-hour meeting, Chief-of-Staff in the Office of the President, Major-General Everiste Ndayishimiye said he came to brief President Mugabe on political developments in Burundi ahead of the African Union summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, later this week.

Burundi has been on the spotlight after it rejected a proposal by AU to send troops to Bujumbura to protect civilians in the wake of the death of 400 people and displacements of more than 200 000 owing to hostilities.

The hostilities had been spawned by the decision by president Nkurunziza’s to seek a third term as some opposition parties protested against the move arguing that he was in violation of the two term limit provided for by that country’s constitution.

President Nkurunziza has on the other hand argued that he started serving his second and final term since the constitution did not earlier on provide term limits.

But Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye said President Mugabe had indicated that the issue of Burundi would come up for discussion at the AU summit.

“You know there is a meeting which is going to be held in Addis Ababa. He told us that they will discuss these issues. We have confidence that they will know the reality and they will not consent to send troops in Burundi,” said Maj Gen Ndayishimiye.

Asked why Burundi was refusing to accept deployment of AU troops, Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye said there was no need for that because there was peace prevailing in that country.

He said it did not make sense to deploy foreign troops when Burundi had more than 5 000 security forces on peacekeeping missions in several countries like Somalia.

“Burundi is protecting other countries. How can you send other troops to protect Burundi. In my view, AU can send other troops in Somalia and Central Africa to help them keep peace quickly. But for Burundi, we send troops because we have peace.

“If we had no peace we could bring back our forces, but now there is no need to bring back our forces because those that remain in the country are working well,” said Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye.

“We have more than 5 000 troops in Somalia. We are assisting Central Africa with more than one battalion, the police are also in Sudan, Haiti, Mali and its known by everyone. So there is no need to send troops to Burundi to protect Burundi when we are protecting other countries.”

He said the deaths of more than 400 people were as a result of criminals, something he said was even common in some developed countries.

“What we have is ordinary criminality and the police and the army are dealing with that situation. Every country has criminals and Burundi is faced with that. Even in the United States, they have criminals who kill people in classrooms.

“In Burundi we did not see anyone who is shooting in schools. They kill some people to steal, attack families to steal, so it’s ordinary criminality that we are faced with,” he said.

Mr Ndayishimiye said Government was busy unifying people after the end of election mode.

“You know when political parties are preparing for election they try to divide the people so that this group can support them, but after the election the main duty of the Government is to unify and reconciliate people.

“Now that is what we are doing and is going on well. We put in place a commission for national dialogue which is working well and we hope that in few months everything will be normal and His Excellency President Mugabe has told us that he is supporting Burundi since a long time and even today he will continue to support Burundi,” he said.

The event was attended by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Sydney Sekeramayi and other senior Government officials.

3 killed in violence in Burundi’s capital

Armed bandits Wednesday night shot dead two persons including a soldier and a civilian at Nyabugete in the south of the Burundian capital Bujumbura and another was stabbed to death in the city center.

By News Ghana
Jan 28, 2016 0

“Three bandits armed with a gun of the Kalashnikov type, a pistol and a grenade attacked two men including a soldier and a civilian at Nyabugete around 19:30 (17:30 GMT), killing both men while they were walking home,” said Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.

Burundi According to him, those bandits stole the gun belonging to the deceased soldier before running away.

“The stolen gun was recovered today (Thursday) morning and the man who had the gun has been arrested,” said Nkurikiye.

He added that another young person believed to be a street young man was stabbed to death by other street men in Bujumbura city center.

Nkurikiye said an investigation has been launched to know why the street young men have killed their fellow. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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