AU to send 5000 soldiers to Burundi
The African Union declared that it'll assign a 5,000 strong force to prevent violence in troubled Burundi. Bujumbura was granted a 4-day timeframe to accept force mandated to "prevent any deterioration of the security situation". Burundi has dismissed proposals for any peacekeeping force so far, but the AU said if it rejected accepting the soldiers, the bloc would "take additional measures" to send deployment.
Violence in the Burundi area started after its president Pierre Nkurunziza announced his third term and won the elections gaining 70% votes in July 2015. He argued that his "first term did not count as part of the constitutional two-term limit as he was selected by MPs." 200 people have died since then including Welly Nzitonda-a human rights activist's son and journalist Christophe Nkezabahizi.
Burundi is the 2nd poorest country in the world and had faced a horrendous 1993-2005 civil war in which 300,000 people had died.
After a string of shootings, homicides, and collisions with police in Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza advertised an ultimatum to the country's residents. He announced "Give up your guns by Saturday, or else you will be dealt with as enemies of the nation." He further asked Burundi's police force to reestablish security in the country and "use all the necessary means" by December 2015.
Spokespersons from the UN voiced their anxiety at the use of incendiary language by some government leaders and Nkurunziza's proposed crackdown fearing that it would incite mass violence. President of the Burundian Senate, Révérien Ndikuriyo's remark to "pulverise, you have to exterminate - these people are only good for dying" was seen as provocative. The violence, though political, started developing a communal hue.
After the government gave the deadline for turning in illegal weapons, gunmen shot at least nine people in a bar in Burundi's capital. The assailants who were most likely government-agents ordered patrons to step outside the bar (most of whom belonged to the opposition). Those killed were asked to lie down and then shot; 7 died on the spot and 2 in the hospital.
As thousands flee Burundi, UN leaders called a meeting fearing that a genocide would erupt in the distressed African country. Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza's threats have been termed "inflammatory" by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Even the International Crisis Group said that the statements issued by other leaders of government were "chillingly similar" to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 speeches.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame also condemned the mounting uproar in Burundi. People began leaving Bujumbura and other sectors of Burundi after the government's deadline to hand in illicit firearms and Nkurunziza'z threat. With the deadline over, hundreds of police and soldiers raided the opposition district of Mutakura in Bujumbura as they launched "house-to-house searches for weapons."
Ahead of the UN-Security Council meet, looking at the rising violence, the UN officials are planning to send peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Burundi to keep a check the disturbance in the area. The deployment is one of the many options being considered by the United Nations peacekeeping force to stop Burundi from slipping into Rwanda-style mass slaughter.
In a fresh surge of violence on 16 December, more than 80 security officers were killed. US asked all its citizens to leave Burundi and Kenya Airways cancelled all flights to Burundi.