African Union to send force to Burundi

2015-12-19 16:24
Soldiers belonging to the African Union Mission in Somalia, walking through the al-Shabab stronghold of Barawe. (Tobin Jones, AFP)

Soldiers belonging to the African Union Mission in Somalia, walking through the al-Shabab stronghold of Barawe. (Tobin Jones, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - The African Union will send a 5 000 strong force to stop violence in troubled Burundi, giving Bujumbura a four-day deadline to agree but warning it would send troops anyway.

The move comes as international alarm grows over spiralling violence in the tiny, landlocked nation which has been mired in bloodshed since April, sparking concern it was sliding towards civil war.

The AU force "shall have an initial strength of up to 5 000 military personnel and police," the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in a statement late on Friday.

Burundi has so far dismissed proposals for any peacekeeping force, but the AU said if it refuses to accept the troops, the bloc would "take additional measures" to ensure its deployment.

And it underlined its "determination to take all appropriate measures against any party or actor... who would impede the implementation of the present decision."

Burundi descended into bloodshed in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July.

Nkurunziza is an ex-rebel and born-again Christian who believes he has divine backing to rule.

The force is mandated to "prevent any deterioration of the security situation" as well as to protect civilians and "contribute to the creation of the necessary conditions for the successful holding of the inter-Burundian dialogue."

Talks between the government and opposition have repeatedly collapsed.

No details were given as to which countries might send troops - or when they would be deployed.

The new force, dubbed MAPROBU - the French acronym for the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi - will have an initial renewable mandate of six months.

EASF includes Burundi

The bloc urged talks among its members, including those in its regional East African Standby Force (EASF), "to generate the troops and police elements needed to quickly reach the authorised strength."

The 10-nation EASF includes Burundi itself, and is one of five AU regional bodies with a mandate to boost "peace and security".

It has never deployed and is currently a force in principle only, with the AU calling on the UN Security Council "to support the deployment".

- On the brink -

Earlier this week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was dispatching an envoy for urgent talks to end the crisis, warning that Burundi was "on the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region."

Ban has also raised the option of deploying UN peacekeepers to quell the violence but recommended that a UN team be first sent to bolster dialogue.

The upsurge in violence has raised fears of a return to civil war, a decade after the end of a 1993-2006 conflict between rebels from the Hutu majority and an army dominated by minority Tutsis, which left 300 000 people dead.

The violence escalated dramatically last week with the killing of 87 people in clashes in Bujumbura, many of them youths shot dead by the security forces.

AU rights investigators this week returned from a fact-finding mission to Burundi expressing "great concern" after witnessing some of the heaviest fighting in the troubled country for months.

The AU team said they had reports of "arbitrary killings and targeted assassinations" as well as arrests, detentions and torture. Their concerns have been widely echoed.

Read more on:    au  |  maprobu  |  pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.