Burundi opposition to support AU peacekeepers

Burundi’s main opposition CNARED argues to give support to African Union peacekeepers for ending civil war in country

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Protesters who are against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term march towards the town of Ijenda, Burundi on June 3, 2015

Burundi’s main opposition groups on Thursday urged to support the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force to the strife-torn country, despite President Pierre Nkurunziza’s objections.

Burundi has faced an upheaval situation after Nkurunziza said that he would stand for a third term in April.

The opposition states that the president’s move is illegal and breaches an accord ending the civil war in the country, which left 300,000 dead.

"The risk is that hesitancy on the part of the international community to support the Burundi people could lead to the resurgence of armed groups," Leonard Nyangoma, head of Burundi's opposition alliance CNARED (Council for the observance of the constitution, human rights and the Arusha peace accord), told a press conference.

"If the international community holds back, then the Burundi people, in a legitimate act of self-defence, will certainly organise against the aggression of Pierre Nkurunziza, who has declared open war on his people," Nyangoma said.

CNARED warns that if the civil war does not end in Burundi, it will risk spreading the war into the central African region.

"This instability would only create even more refugees who would almost certainly seek refuge in the West," a statement said, picking up on the current migrant crisis in Europe.

The AU is determined to end the civil war in Burundi and will go for a vote on Saturday due to sending 5,000 peacekeeping force to protect civilians caught up in months of violence, invoking for the first time powers to intervene in a member state against its will.

Nkurunziza threatened AU by a civil war in December to fight any AU peacekeepers imposed on his country, saying "In case they violate those principles [respecting Burundi borders], they will have attacked the country and every Burundian will stand up and fight against them.”

The AU charter gives the pan-African bloc the right to intervene in a member state in "grave circumstances" where war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity are being committed.

Civil war deepened in Burundi by loyalists and the opposition when Nkurunziza won the third-term presidential elections in July.

The UN observers described July’s elections as “not free” or “not credible.”

UN Security Council Delegation came to Burundi’s capital last week to meet Nkurunziza to push him to end the violence in the country.

The UN has warned Burundi risks a repeat of the 1993-2005 civil war, with some 400 dead since April and at least 230,000 people fleeing to neighbouring countries.

TRTWorld and agencies