Burundi: time for tough messages
Amid continued violence and a dangerous polarisation between the Burundi government and opposition, a delegation of African Union (AU) heads of state will visit Bujumbura on 25-26 February. Mandated by the recent AU summit and led by South African President Jacob Zuma, the five heads of state need to deliver tough messages to both President Pierre Nkurunziza and the armed opposition. These should include insistence on a credible dialogue outside the country, an end to the armed opposition’s provocative attacks, a halt to impunity and ongoing killings, and respect for the Arusha Peace Agreement that brought an end to the country’s twelve-year civil war.
Recent Crisis Group research in Bujumbura, Kigali, Nairobi and Brussels, points to an increasingly volatile situation. Since the attacks on military installations in the capital on 11 December 2015, the regime is further cracking down on the few dissenting voices that have not fled the country, and its Imbonerakure militia is taking an ever more prominent position in the fracturing security forces. With no plan but to stay in power as long as possible, the regime and its hardline supporters are increasingly turning to an ethnic rhetoric that unjustifiably paints all opposition as a plot by the minority Tutsi community.
To contain the crisis and put the country on track to a sustainable peace, the AU, European Union (EU), UN and other international partners need to focus on four key demands, backed up by pressure in four key areas (diplomacy, sanctions, international presence, funding).
The four key demands are: a genuine dialogue; an end to the incipient insurgency; a halt to impunity and an end to the killings; and protection for the Arusha Agreement and the gains of the peace process.
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"Il devient absolument urgent de mettre un terme à cette injustice. Il y a un manque de connaissances et de recherches. Il faut donc promouvoir le recueil de témoignages, mais aussi construire des mémoriaux, organiser des expositions..." - @BenjaminAbtan