AU Calls on Burundi Rivals to Cooperate as Peace Talks Take Place in Uganda
African Union (AU) commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called on warring Burundi rivals to cooperate as peace talks take place in Uganda.
The call comes after an angry reaction from the Burundi government following an offer from the AU to send 5,000 peacekeeper troops into the troubled nation to help calm the conflict. The Burundi government labeled the proposed peacekeeper unit as an invasion force, promising to react accordingly to acts of war.
Protests against peacekeeper offer
Thousands of Burundi citizens have taken to the streets already in protest of the AU’s offer to send peacekeeper troops into the country. Supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza claim the majority of people in the country are against the deployment of peacekeepers in Burundi.
Top officials in the country have also taken to social media to protest against the AU’s stance on sending troops into Burundi. The African Union Peace and Security Council has reportedly approved the move, using a clause in the AU Constitutive Act that allows it to send troops into a member nation without its consent in adverse circumstances.
Peace meeting in Uganda
As people in Burundi contest the AU’s right and incentive for sending troops into the country, representatives of the government and rebel forces are conducting peace talks in Uganda.
Rebels earlier this week claimed they had created a new armed force with the intention of overthrowing the country’s president as tensions continue to peak. The talks in Uganda mark the first dialogue between the Burundi rivals since a peace deal was signed in August this year.
The August agreement has failed to improve the political crisis in Burundi with violence continuing to escalate. Until now the government has refused to hold talks with rebels, branding them as a terrorist group. International bodies including the UN have voiced concerns that continued violence in Burundi could see the nation plunge into an ethnic genocide similar to the 1994 incident in Rwanda.