Foreign minister: Burundi rejects African Union peacekeeper plan

Burundi will not allow African Union (AU) peacekeepers into the country, its Foreign Minister Alaine Nyamitwe told dpa on Sunday, defying regional attempts to quell political and ethnic violence there.

If the AU's mission is to convince Burundi to accept peacekeeping troops, "it has already failed", Nyamitwe said in Addis Ababa, responding to the organization's announcement that it would send a high level delegation to the country to discuss the deployment of forces.

"There is no government consent," he said on the sidelines of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, which ended on Sunday afternoon.

"We have the capacity to secure our country.

"There has to be consent from Burundi on the troop deployment. We thank the (AU's) Peace and Security Council for its decision."

The mandate of the peacekeepers would focus on disarming militia, protecting civilians, facilitating the work of human rights observers and confiscating weapons that are circulating illegally, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui said earlier.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the summit that he had proposed the deployment of UN peacekeepers to the UN Security Council.

"I want to support all possible options which can help in contributing to peace and stability, and protecting human rights in Burundi," he said at a press conference.

"But basically, it is up to the African Union, and also in close consultation with the Burundian government, what kind of measures should be deployed."

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has promised to fight any peacekeepers sent by the AU, arguing it violates Burundi's sovereignty.

More than 400 Burundians have been killed since April in anti-government protests, attacks by armed groups and as a result of police repression, according to the UN.

"The longer this situation continues, the more people will be killed and affected," Ban said, adding that almost 1 million people have been displaced by the violence.

"We cannot wait any longer, that is why it is a matter of urgency, that I am urging African leaders to act in one voice, and also particularly urging President Nkurunziza and his government to listen very carefully and engage in inclusive dialogue."

Nkurunziza's announcement in April that he would seek a third term in office, despite a constitutional two-term limit, unleashed the wave of violence. The president won an election boycotted by the opposition in July. 

Last update: Sun, 31/01/2016 - 14:49
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