AU official says deploying force in Burundi 'unimaginable'

African Union Special Representative says AU's proposal to deploy peacekeeping force to Burundi without government approval is 'unimaginable'

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon gives an address at the 26th presidential summit of the African Union on January 30, 2016 in Addis Ababa.

The African Union will not decide to deploy peacekeeping forces to Burundi without the confirmation of Burundi's government, Ibrahima Fall, African Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region told French Radio RFI on Sunday.

"It has been, I think, bad communication. It was never the intention of the African Union to deploy a mission to Burundi without the consent of Burundian authorities,” said Senegalese AU official adding that "this is unimaginable."

The 24th African Union summit began on Friday in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, presidents and foreign ministers from across the 54-member bloc participated, deploying the 5,000 peacekeeping force, despite Burundi's government totally opposing the idea was one of the issues discussed.

Talks on the deployment forces were held in a closed-door meeting, however statements have not yet been released.

According to the AU charter's Article 4 (h), the African Union has a right to intervene in an African country "in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity."

Burundi's government has strongly opposed a possible peacekeeping deployment in the country without its permission, calling it an “invasion force.”

"We have said that the deployment of this force is not justified, and we gave the reasons for this rejection, that we believe the situation in the country is under control," Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe said.

However, the United Nations Secretary-General Ba Ki-moon who attended the AU meeting said that the UN backed the AU's proposal "to deploy human rights observers and to establish a prevention and protection mission" in Burundi.

Ban Ki-Moon, also urged African "leaders who stand by while civilians are slaughtered in their name must be held responsible."

A soldier stands between demonstrators and riot police facing off in the Musaga district of Bujumbura

Ongoing Violence storms Burundi

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.

At least 400 people have been killed and about 3,500 arrested in Burundi under the government crackdown since April last year, according to the United Nations figures. Also more than 240,000 people fled to neighbouring countries, fearing a possible genocide.

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. 

African Union and United Nations previously warned possible tribal war and genocide in Burundi.

'End to tragedies' in Africa

At Saturday's summit session, Chad's President, Idriss Deby, was elected as AU chairman, replacing Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe.

Deby told African presidents that conflicts across Africa have to end, during his speech at the opening of the 26th AU Summit in Addis Aaba, Ethiopia.

"Everything that we are doing now will be in vain and without purpose if we allow Africa to go through these perpetual crises: South Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Burundi, the Sahel, the Lake Chad basin," he said.

"Through diplomacy or by force... we must put an end to these tragedies of our time."

TRTWorld and agencies