African Union decides to send troops to Burundi

African Union decides to send troops to Burundi and vows it won't allow 'genocide' to take place in country

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A police officer walks past a burning barricade in the Cibitoke neighbourhood of Bujumbura

The African Union's (AU) Peace and Security Council has plans to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi - where ongoing deadly violence is continuing - without the concession of the country’s leader, a diplomat present at an AU gathering said.

The AU decision will need consent from the UN Security Council, which has been seeking a solution for the crisis in the country.

"This [AU] resolution marks the first time the African Union decided to invoke its charter's Article 4," the diplomat stated.

According to Chapter 4 of the AU Constitutive Act, the AU has the right to intervene "in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity."

Also on Thursday the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council  approved a resolution calling for the immediate deployment of experts to Burundi to investigate the situation in the land-locked east African country.

At least 400 people have been killed and almost 3,500 have been arrested in Burundi, according to Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights

"Burundi is at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war," Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.

He said, "The time for piecemeal responses and fiddling around the edges is over."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Wednesday that Burundi "is on the brink of a civil war that could engulf the region."

Burundi has been in a cycle of deadly violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s victory in a disputed election following his decision to seek a third term despite a constitutional two-term limit.

Protests erupted accross Burundi against Nkurunziza’s third-term bid and his disputed election victory last July.

Hundreads of people have been killed since the elections, including Burundian opposition figures and supporters - as well as a former army chief and a former intelligence chief - under a government crackdown.

According to the latest UN figures more than 239,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, fearing a possible genocide. Up to 55 percent of the refugees are under the age of 18.

There was a civil war in Burundi from 1993 to 2005 and approximately 300,000 people died in the conflict between rebels from the country's majority Hutu population and an army dominated by the Tutsi minority.

TRTWorld and agencies