Ethiopia: AU leaders champion steady progress in Burundi crisis

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - An African Union (AU) Heads of State mission, led by South African President Jacob Zuma, has made steady progress in unlocking the Burundi political crisis after a working visit there where it held talks with the key stakeholders in the crisis engulfing the fragile Central African state.

President Zuma led the delegation comprising President Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, President Macky Sall of Senegal, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and Ali Bongo of Gabon to Bujumbura, the capital, for talks with key political stakeholders in the search for a solution to the crisis.

“The visit enabled the High Level Delegation to assess the evolution of the situation in Burundi since the last AU Summit, as well as find ways and means to support Burundi to put an end to the spiraling violence engulfing the country since April,” the AU said in a statement Monday.

The mission of the high-level delegation was initially thought to be an attempt to convince President Pierre Nkurunziza to drop his government’s opposition to an AU plan to deploy troops.

However, the African leaders called for further deployment of military observers and human rights monitors during their visit from 25-26 February, where they held talks with key players.

The AU said the delegation welcomed the withdrawal of the international arrest warrants issued against some Burundian citizens.

At talks with President Nkurunziza, the AU leaders secured the reopening of private radio station and radio-television broadcasting station as well as the announcement of the imminent release of some political detainees, although no timeframes for their release was immediately announced.

“The High Level Delegation encouraged the government to extend such measures to other persons who were still detained and to other media which were still closed,” the AU said.

The leaders praised the work done by the AU Human Rights Observers and Military Experts deployed in Burundi. The two sides agreed to increase the number of the human rights personnel to 100 and to deploy some 100 Military Observers.

There have been complaints that the human rights situation deteriorated inside Burundi despite the deployment of the human rights observers. This concern fueled a rush to have troops to be deployed to Burundi in fulfilling an AU vow never to allow genocide to occur in Africa.

The delegation deplored the continuing violations of human rights, violence against civilians and public security forces as well as the deterioration of the already alarming humanitarian situation.

The leaders asked the Burundian government and the armed groups to put an end to the acts of violence. They also underscored the need to dismantle and disarm all militias within Burundi.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 1March2016

01 march 2016 13:24:55

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