African Union: Crisis in Burundi Is of Great Concern

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
December 15, 2015 Updated: December 15, 2015

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—A team sent to investigate the ongoing crisis in Burundi received reports of torture, arbitrary killings, targeted assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detentions which are of “great concern,” the African Union said Tuesday.

Friday’s attack of three military facilities by an unidentified group that left at least 87 people dead, has led to an escalation of violence and human rights violations, a delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights said in a statement.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza sought re-election in April despite a two- term limit imposed by the constitution. The April announcement of Nkurunziza’s candidacy sparked street protests that boiled over into an attempted coup in May. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, but the violence has since increased.

The AU urged in its statement that all state and non-state actors should put an immediate end to the ongoing violence and the human rights violations, saying that the current crisis cannot be solved through fighting.

Violations of human rights should be investigated and redressed, the statement said, adding that the government should give all humanitarian actors unfettered access for providing assistance to affected communities and deliver social services.

Separately, Uganda’s minister for regional cooperation, Philemon Mateke, has said President Yoweri Museveni is organizing a meeting of Burundian warring parties in a neutral country.

He said Museveni, who is mediating the crisis in Burundi on behalf of the East African Community, is talking with the Burundian government and the opposition to agree on the venue of the negotiations.

More than 300 people have been killed and about 215,000 others have fled Burundi since April. The U.S. government on Sunday asked its citizens to leave Burundi as soon as possible. Belgium, Burundi’s former colonial master, asked its citizens to leave the central African nation last month.

Many Burundians and the international community have opposed Nkurunziza’s third term as unconstitutional and in violation of a peace accord. The treaty ended a civil war in which 300,000 people were killed between 1993 and 2006.