International community condemns rhetoric of Burundi leaders

Global community criticises Burundi’s government for inciting violence in country amid death of human rights activist

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Monday gave an ultimatum for gunmen to turn in their weapons until the weekend.

The global community has condemned leaders of Burundi for inciting violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza had gave an ultimatum for people to hand over illegal weapons unless they want to be treated as enemies of the state.

The United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "inflammatory rhetoric" towards different groups in Burundian society.

“He expresses grave concern that in recent weeks, the discovery of the bodies of civilian victims, many apparently summarily executed, has become a regular occurrence in several neighbourhoods of Bujumbura," Dujarric said. 

The violence in Burundi has been steadily increasing since April when Nkurunziza announced he would stand again as president, despite the constitutional two-term limit, as he argues his first term does not count because he was chosen by MPs. He was re-elected in July, which the opposition says contradicts the terms of the peace deal and the constitution signed in 2006 after ten years of civil war.

Protesters in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, demonstrating against the president's bid for a third term (May 19, 2015)

The International Crisis Group compared the Burundian leaders’ comments to the language that was used in Rwanda before the genocide of 1994, saying it is "chillingly similar."

Burundi's Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo had threatened to "exterminate" opponents who did not turn in their weapons after Nkurunziza set a five-day deadline on Monday.

On Friday, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned that anybody who incited or engaged in acts of mass violence in Burundi was "liable to prosecution before the court" in The Hague.

"Should any conduct in Burundi amount to war crimes, no one should doubt my resolve ... that the perpetrators do not go unpunished," she said.

France has also voiced concerns about the continuing deterioration of the situation in the central African country and called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the turmoil on Monday.

Meanwhile, the son of Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, a prominent Burundian human rights activist was killed after being arrested on Friday, according to a witness.

Welly Fleury Nzitonda’s dead body was discovered in an empty house in the capital Bujumbura. Last month, Mbonimpa’s son-in-law was also killed in front of his home.

Crisis in the country has killed almost 200 people and injured at least 500 since late April, as more than 200,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, according to UN reports.

TRTWorld and agencies