Ethiopia: Burundi defiant ahead of Summit on AU troop deployment

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -The African Union (AU) has sounded a warning to Burundi, which insists it would accept talks with rival political camps, but would not accept the deployment of foreign troops on its soil to protect key state officials and stop the killing of political opponents.

“We encourage states to respect the decisions of the AU. It is our organisation and it has served us well,” said the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Aisha Abdullahi, on Thursday, responding to questions over Burundi’s continuous process of undermining the organisation’s decision to send troops there.

Burundian foreign minister Alain Nyamitwe said Bujumbura was prepared to accept talks with rivals on a process to restore normalcy across the country but would not compromise on the proposals to deploy AU troops.

"On the issue of national dialogue, we are open but we need to work on the modalities so we participate in a very acceptable environment for the national dialogue which is going to open in the country," Nyamitwe told PANA. "On the issue of troop deployment, our position is clear."

African leaders, already in Addis Ababa for the 26th Summit of the AU, are set to hold a Summit of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Friday to discuss the political crisis in Burundi.

The political crisis in Burundi intensified after President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election. The elections were conducted without the AU’s political approval and without AU observers.

Abdullahi said while Africa had shown great political progress with the successful holding of 16 elections in 2015, the elections in Burundi showed a massive failure because it failed to address national diversity.

“The PSC Summit will discuss how to bring an end to the crisis in Burundi,” Abdullahi told reporters during a news conference ahead of the main Summit on Saturday.

The UN Security Council members visited Bujumbura recently to discuss the potential deployment of troops to help end growing politically-motivated violence.

The UN Security Council members also visited Addis Ababa for a meeting with the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, to discuss the crisis in Burundi.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said in a report circulated on Thursday that the Security Council was considering the deployment of troops from the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo to stop the violence in Burundi.

Experts said when the AU approved the peacekeeping mission to Burundi to stop the violence, it did not anticipate the Burundian government’s opposition.

The AU is proposing the troops to be deployed to Burundi would prevent the situation from worsening, protect civilians and create conditions for peace talks.

However, analysts from the ISS say it would be the first time an AU mission would be authorised without the direct approval of a member state based on the provisions of Chapter Four of the Constitutive Act, the AU’s constitution, which remains the main driving force of continental unity.
-0- PANA AO/MA 29Jan2016

29 january 2016 10:42:40

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