Yesterday, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza threatened to fight African Union (AU) peacekeepers if they are deployed to the country.
“Everyone has to respect Burundi borders,” Nkurunziza said.
“In case they violate those principles, they will have attacked the country and every Burundian will stand up and fight against them.
“The country will have been attacked and it will respond.”
On December 25, Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urged Nkurunziza to allow peacekeepers into the country, stating that there was no agenda other than to help the people of Burundi. “The AU has no other agenda than to assist the government and people of Burundi at their hour of need, consistent with its commitment to promote African solutions to African problems,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
During Dlamini-Zuma’s discussion with the president he “expressed the AU’s readiness to rapidly initiate discussions with the government of Burundi to devise the best ways and means of facilitating the deployment of the mission, in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation”, the AU reported.
Earlier in the month the AU stated they were ready to send 5,000 peacekeepers to the country. However, Burundi’s government rejected the offer saying they “did not need them”.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) the death toll is at least 400 people and around 3,500 individuals have been arrested since April. Neighbouring countries are currently hosting 220,000 refugees and countless others are internally displaced.
On Monday the rival factions from Burundi arrived in Uganda in order to begin the long awaited peace talks aimed at bringing an end to the violence in the country.
Henry Oryem Okello, Uganda’s deputy foreign minister spoke with the government run newspaper, New Vision stating, “what we want to achieve as Uganda is to see that all forms of killings going on in Burundi — on either the opposition or government side — are stopped immediately.”
All eyes are on the country as the new year arrives. Tension and violence continue to rise and international and regional pressure on Burundi are increasing and hope seems to be diminishing. Burundi will be watched closely in 2016 especially as the AU pushes for Nkurunziza to accept peacekeepers with the hope that these forces will aid in reducing the violence.