BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Thousands of supporters of Burundi’s president Saturday protested against the African Union’s plan to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to quell the country’s escalating unrest.
Burundi has been rocked by turmoil since April when it was announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would run for a third term. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July but the violence has since escalated.
The demonstration in Bujumbura, the capital, was led by Vice President Gaston Sindimwo who insisted that Burundi’s army is capable of halting violence and protecting all Burundians. Other protests were in Ngonzi province, Nkurunziza’s hometown and a stronghold of the ruling party.
Burundi will never accept the African Union’s forces, Sindimwo said.
“Burundi is a member of the African Union and has not accepted those forces. How can they say the AU has decided, yet Burundi has not accepted?” he asked.
“We would like to warn AU troops that the majority of Burundians don’t want them and they should not impose themselves on the people of Burundi,” Alice Nakuto, a member of the ruling party’s militia known as Imbonerakure and who took part in demonstrations in Ngonzi province, told The Associated Press by phone.
Earlier this month 87 people died when three military installations were attacked by rebels who said this week they are fighting to topple Nkurunziza.
At least 400 people have died in Burundi’s violence since April and some 220,000 have fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.
Burundi’s government has rejected the A.U.’s plans to deploy peacekeepers, describing it as an invasion force.
The African Union says it has written to Nkurunziza urging him to consent to the deployment of a peacekeeping force in Burundi, as fears grow that the country is rapidly sliding toward another civil war.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is scheduled to mediate talks between the fighting sides in Kampala next week. Fourteen Burundian groups are expected to attend.
What’s going on in Burundi is horrible, and no doubt the country is going the same trail Rwanda went through in 1994.
After 1994, international community apologized for not coming to rescue when Rwandans were being murdered. All strong nations were just blind when the slaughter was going on, until a small brave team of Rwandans decided to take arms and fought back, and took over the nation, and brought it back from perishing.
Currently, no media is talking about Burundi. Recently, the UN said it is in worse position to do anything to stop a genocide than it was in 1994. That simply mean, “we are sorry guys, it’s up to you to solve your own problems”.
African Union is useless as we all know, they won’t do anything to stop the chaos of that magnitude.
The only solution to the problem is president Nkurunziza himself to resign, and we all know that is not going to happen. It’s good to remind readers that the chaos started when the acting president (Who took the power through fight as well) decided to run another term, which is unconstitutional. As people revolted against it, chaos began. And now, instead of protecting the civilians, the government is killing its own people….until someone else overthrows it!
Just like FPR fought back to stabilize the country, Burundian rebels need to reorganize and start the fight, the fight to be free, the fight for the right to live, the fight for the right to exist. It’s a sad and scary path to take, but sometimes all you need is war to bring back Peace.
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum (If You Want Peace, Prepare for War)
21 June 2015 – Concerned by the political crisis in Burundi, “which threatens to undo more than a decade of work to consolidate peace and reconciliation in the country”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the arrival in Bujumbura of his Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily.
“The Secretary-General has requested [Mr. Bathily] to offer good offices in Burundi in support of regional efforts to reduce tensions and help Burundians peacefully settle their differences. Special Representative… will work closely with the African Union, the East African Community and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region. He will arrive in Bujumbura on Sunday, 21 June”, reads a statement from the UN Spokesperson.
The UN Chief also welcomed the communiqué of the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council, held on 13 June, at the level of Heads of State and Government, which provides “a clear way forward towards peaceful and credible elections in Burundi.”
Mr. Ban expressed deep gratitude to his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, for his “tireless efforts” “impartially” facilitating the dialogue among Burundian stakeholders during May and June of this year.
As elections draw near, the Secretary-General called on all Burundian political leaders to address the current political crisis with the highest sense of responsibility, urging them to resume political dialogue “earnestly”, with a view to creating an environment conducive for peaceful, credible and inclusive elections.
Burundi’s elections are scheduled for July 15.
Burundi has been hit by a new wave of protests as opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term grows.
Gunfire was heard and streets were barricaded in parts of the capital, Bujumbura, in the third day of protests, witnesses told the BBC.
Police are blocking about students in the second city, Gitega, from joining the demonstrations, residents said.
The protests are the biggest in Burundi since the civil war ended in 2005.
For the latest news, views and analysis see the BBC Africa Live page.
The army and police have been deployed to quell the protests, which have been described by government officials as an insurrection.
‘Phone lines cut’
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said, in a statement, that he had despatched his special envoy for the region, Said Djinnit, to Burundi for talks with Mr Nkurunziza.
African Union commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said she welcomed a decision by Burundi’s Senate to ask the Constitutional Court to rule whether Mr Nkurunziza could stand for re-election.
BBC Burundi analyst Prime Ndikumagenge says the phone lines of private radio stations have been cut, a decision apparently taken by the authorities to prevent news of protests from spreading.
The ruling party’s Vice-President Joseph Ntakirutimana has compared one radio station to a former Rwandan broadcaster, accused of fuelling the 1994 genocide.
The Red Cross says at least six people have been killed in the demonstrations since Sunday.
More than 24,000 people have fled Burundi this month, as tensions mount ahead of presidential elections in June, the UN refugee agency said.
This includes 5,000 who crossed into Rwanda at the weekend, it added.
Burundi’s ex-President Pierre Buyoya, who was involved in the peace process that ended more than a decade of ethnic conflict, has warned that Burundi could return to war if the crisis is not resolved.
Burundi has a majority Hutu and a minority Tutsi population.
The opposition says Mr Nkurunziza, a former rebel who took power after the civil war ended, should step down.
They say his bid to extend his term is in defiance of the constitution, as it bars the president from running for a third term.
However, Mr Nkurunziza’s allies say his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament and not directly by the people.
More than 300,000 people died in the civil war between the minority Tutsi-dominated army and mainly Hutu rebel groups, including Mr Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD.