US condemns violence in Burundi

Grenade attack on bank in Burundian capital condemned by US

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States has condemned a grenade attack on a bank in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, in which a hand grenade was thrown under a car injuring a child on May 29.

“The United States strongly condemns the May 29 grenade attack in Bujumbura, and the continued violence in Burundi. We are deeply concerned that the recent grenade attacks, violence perpetrated by the ruling party Imbonerakure youth militia, and continued restrictions on peaceful assembly and the media are undermining efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution of the current crisis,” the US department of State said in a press release.

During April, more than 30 people were killed and 500 wounded during protests opposing current President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

The opposition wants Nkurunziza to withdraw his third-term bid in the upcoming June 26 elections, claiming it violates the country's constitution and the Arusha Accords, a peace deal that ended an ethnic civil war in 2005.

The constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because his first term was picked by lawmakers and not by elections.

The US placed visa restrictions on Burundians it deemed responsible before the elections, claiming that violence and militias have no place in the democratic process and all people should vote for a better Burundi.

Urging all Burundian stakeholders and regional actors to continue to support ongoing efforts to find a solution in accordance with the Arusha Agreement, the US warned all sides to refrain from any acts that could contribute to the climate of instability or undermine the rule of law in Burundi.

Concerning the political crisis in Burundi, East African Community (EAC) leaders will come together on a summit to be held in Tanzania on Sunday. 

According to AFP, the leaders will not discuss the key issue: the presidential term limit which is at the root of tensions that have sparked weeks of civil unrest and a failed coup attempt.

"It's unlikely that the EAC countries will speak out over the question at the heart of the crisis. They're not very well placed to do so because, apart from Kenya, they are all grappling themselves with the issue of presidential mandates," explained Andre Gichaoua, an academic and expert on the region.

More than 100,000 people have fled to neighboring nations since the political violence that culminated in last week's foiled coup attempt erupted in April, according to the UN.

Cholera has claimed the lives of thirty-one Burundian refugees in camps in Tanzania, with 3,000 cases of the epidemic reported since last week, the UN refugee agency has said.

According to Al Jazeera, there are 50,000 refugees stranded on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, where cholera has spread.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that tens of thousands of refugees had been displaced from Burundi because of the civil war and the outbreak of diseases had become a "a new, worrying, and growing additional complication,” in Tanzania.

TRTWorld and agencies