Burundi Rejects UN’s Troop Deployment Despite Increasing Violence

Burundi, formally the Republic of Burundi, has rejected the United Nation’s proposal to deploy  up to 228 United Nations police officers to monitor human rights abuses and ease tensions after a year of violence.

The country has faced political turmoil and increasing violence due to President Pierre Nkurunziza announcing plans in April 2015 to run for a third term in office. This sparked protests by his opposition who stated that he was violating the constitution and the peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005. The protesters were violently put down by his security forces and Nkurunziza won the re-election. The UN Security Council authorized the deployment of up to 228 UN police personnel to Burundi.

“Given an increase in violence and tension the Security Council must have eyes and ears on the ground to predict and ensure that the worst does not occur in Burundi,” said Francois Delattre, the French UN ambassador.

Burundi’s government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba stated that sending a foreign force in without prior consultation with authorities would be a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

In January of this year, the African Union similarly announced plans to deploy 5,000 troops as peacekeepers to protect citizens from the escalating violence, but President Nkurunziza threatened to counter the deployment. Shortly following in March, the European Union suspended direct financial aid due to the lack of improvement in the political situation.

Al Jazeera reports that more than 450 people have been killed since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his campaign and that at least 270,000 people have fled the country.

Vital Nshimirimana, a prominent Burundian rights activist, urged the UN to proceed quickly with the deployment to save lives.

“The UN must stop listening to President Nkurunziza’s empty threats and come to Burundi to rescue the people of Burundi,” Nshimirimana said.

In 1962, Urundi split from Ruanda-Urundi and became the independent East-African kingdom of Burundi under King Mwambutsa IV. From its independence onwards, Burundi was plunged into a series of violent events characterized by ethnic-motivated violence and political coups.

The Head of United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) Christof Heyns, stated that

“For Burundi to move away from violence and conflict, it needs a truly inclusive political dialogue that will address the roots of the political crisis…Real progress in power sharing will be crucial to achieving sustainable peace.”

For a comprehensive timeline of events in Burundi: //www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13087604

Annemarie Lewis