Rwanda: Burundi will benefit from deployment of AU peacekeepers (A News analysis by Aimable Twahirwa, PANA Correspondent in Kigali)

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - After Ugandan Minister of Defence Crispus Kiyonga stressed that there is goodwill in Burundi to accept the deployment of African Union (AU) peacekeepers, Burundian authorities have now the biggest interest in welcoming the 5,000 strong force as the only effective solution toward lasting peace in the tiny East African nation, analysts say.

At the time pressure is growing for the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, to accept the deployment of AU peacekeepers with a mission to stop months of violence in the country, the authorities in Bujumbura are resisting the idea saying "everyone has to respect Burundi's borders".

Speaking recently in a press conference in Gitega, a small city located in the Central Burundi, Pierre Nkuruziza went on to say that in case they (African Union troops) violate those principles, they will have attacked his country.

"Every Burundian will stand up and fight against them … The country will have been attacked and it will respond,” the Burundian leader who is also known as "New Born Again President told reporters.

The issue currently in focus is for Burundi to accept AU peacekeepers, after AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma contacted Burundian leader to make it clear that "the AU has no other agenda than to assist the government and people of Burundi at their hour of need".

This is because several hundred of people, including civilians and police officers, have died or been injured in the growing violence that pushed United States, the European Union and the African Union to warn President Nkurunziza that he risks plunging his country into a new crisis through a combination of circumstances that can lead to another genocide - similar to the one perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994.

This crisis, which has been brewing for months, centres on two interpretations of Burundi’s 2005 Constitution. Article 96 says: "The President is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year mandate, renewable once.”

Despite, the the readiness expressed by AU official to rapidly initiate discussions with the government of Burundi to devise the best ways and means of facilitating the deployment of the mission, Dr Dlamini Zuma's pleas fell on deaf ears. This is also despite the alarming humanitarian situation.

Bujumbura has received a number of calls by international leaders in efforts to persuade the government to accept the deployment of peacekeepers, but the country insists that would be "a violation of its national sovereignty".

Some political analysts interviewed by PANA in Kigali note that what is most urgently needed to address the current root cause of conflict is "political will".

They note that as the problems associated with the large influx of Burundian refugees on neighbouring countries pose a serious security threat, the calls for urgent action voiced by the AU and the international community will become even louder.

A senior lecturer in Political Science at the University of Rwanda told PANA that the government in Bujumbura was trying to use the refusal of the deployment of the AU peacekeeping force, as an excuse to combat and kill some members of opposition groups who take to the streets in Bujumbura.

"What is very sad is that despite the international pressure, not a single perpetrator of these criminal acts has been brought to book," the Rwandan researcher said while speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic in Rwanda.

Meanwhile, President Nkurunziza has on several occasions been criticized by his peers including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who observed that when "your own citizens tell you 'we do not want you to do that or to lead us', maybe they are saying you haven't done enough for them".

The current security situation in Burundi is of major concern for the whole East African region, and the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo fears the possibility that the Rwandan Hutu rebels operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could use the violence to destabilize Rwanda.

Speaking recently during a press briefing in Kigali, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said that his government's wish was for Burundian people to address their own problem.

In addition, he said, that Rwanda would not provide military support to any intervention mission in Burundi.
-0- PANA TWA/MA 11Jan2016

11 january 2016 11:07:54




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