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Burundi: Diplomacy Falling Short
July 14, 2015 (150714)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
As Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni travels to Burundi for yet
another attempt to mediate in the crisis caused by the determination
of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in the elections
now scheduled for July 21, it is clear that international diplomatic
efforts are still failing to reverse increasing repression and
escalation of violence. Despite multiple mediators and international
declarations of concern, most recently calling for disarmament of
the pro-government militias and commitment to a government of
national unity, the incumbent president has good reason to conclude
that he can continue to resist the pleas of his international
critics as well as to repress internal opposition.
Despite apparent consensus, pressure from both the East African
Community (EAC) and the African Union (AU) is weakened by the
example of its own leaders who have followed similar strategies to
remain in power, from African Union chair Robert Mugabe to the
latest mediator Yoweri Museveni. Although the United States and some
European countries have been outspoken in their criticism of
Nkurunziza, they are well aware that the African Union peacekeeping
mission in Somalia still depends on troops from Burundi.
For two recent articles on reasons for the failure of diplomatic
efforts, see Simon Allison, "Why Somalia is the Burundian
president's trump card," Daily Maverick, July 6, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/q587hr7) and Simon Allison, "Despite their
criticism, did the international community enable Nkurunziza’s third
term bid?," Daily Maverick, June 30, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/pswh65g).
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains documents on the most recent
United Nations, African Union, and East Africa Community responses
to the crisis in Burundi, as well as an op-ed by Salim Salim, who as
Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity negotiated
the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi signed in
the year 2000.
For a Reuters news summary of the current situation as of July 13,
For an article with more extensive analysis of the UN role and on
Burundi's role in Somalia peacekeeping, see "UN peacebuilding
efforts in years preceding the crisis, see "What Burundi’s crisis
says about U.N. capacity to build peace," Washington Post, May 18,
2015 (http://tinyurl.com/nlwz9of), and "Is Burundi still a credible
peacekeeper?," Washington Post, May 23, 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/okmczzf).
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Burundi, with additional
background and links, visit http://www.africafocus.org/docs15/bur1504.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
A week from presidential polls, Burundi on 'brink of devastating
violence,' Security Council told
9 July 2015 – Two weeks after the contested legislative and communal
elections that took place in Burundi and with presidential polls
just days away, senior United Nations officials warned the Security
Council today that situation prevailing in the Central African
country is once again at risk of sliding into violence.
"Burundi is on the brink again [and] the grave danger the country
faces should not be underestimated, given the increasing
polarization and the apparent choice of Burundian leaders to put
personal interest before those of the country," declared UN
Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook
"An escalating pattern of politically motivated violence, coupled
with this country's history of recurring bloodshed and atrocities,
should alert us to the potential for serious crisis," underlined UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Both officials echoed similar concern as they briefed the Security
Council on the situation in Burundi; Mr. Zehiroun on the electoral
process and the political and security situations through the work
of the UN Election Observation Mission (MENUB) and Mr. Zeid on the
protection and promotion of human rights.
"On 2 July, MENUB assessed that the legislative and communal
electoral process of June 29 took place against the background of a
political crisis, and in a climate of widespread fear and
intimidation in parts of the country," said the Assistant Secretary-General.
Some opposition political parties and civil society organizations,
notably those opposed to a third term for President Pierre
Nkurunziza, called the elections a "sham" and declared they would
not recognize the results.
Fundamental freedoms of participation, assembly, expression, opinion
and information suffered increasing restrictions during the campaign
period and as Election Day drew nearer, according to the MENUB
observers deployed in all 18 provinces of Burundi.
In the past six months, went on to say Mr. Zeid, members of
opposition parties, civil society activists and media figures have
been targeted for intimidation, severe harassment and arbitrary
"Peaceeful protests have been met with unwarranted use of force,
including lethal force, in violation of Burundi's obligation under
national and international law to guarantee the right to freedom of
assembly. Demonstrators have been imprisoned and subjected to
torture and ill-treatment. We have also received reports of
extrajudicial killings. To date these violations have not been
investigated, prosecuted or sanctioned."
While MENUB assessed that the Independent National Election
Commission adequately handled the voter registration and the
nomination of candidates, opposition parties repeatedly accused the
electoral management body of "lacking credibility and independence,"
continued Mr. Zehiroun.
Preparations and arrangements for Election Day were largely
sufficient, and instances of violence and explosions preceded, and
in some cases took place alongside Election Day activities, mostly
in Bujumbura, he pointed out.
"In view of its findings, MENUB concluded that the environment was
not conducive for free, credible and inclusive elections. The
African Union, the Eastern African Community, and the International
Conference on Great Lakes Region expressed similar concerns."
According to the Election Commission, the preliminary results of the
legislative elections show that Conseil national pour la défense de
la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD),
the party received 60.2 per cent of the votes, a result rejected by
the opposition, Mr. Zehiroun said.
"Preparations for the presidential election are ongoing. Ballot
papers have been printed with all the eight candidates approved by
the Election Commission including those who have announced they
would boycott the elections," he stressed, adding that the political
and security situations in Burundi have remained tense and volatile
since the polls.
"The crisis arising from President Nkurunziza's decision to run for
a third term in office has undermined a decade of steady progress in
building democratic institutions, and precious gains in the sense of
a common national community," warned UN rights chief Zeid, stressing
that more than 145,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries,
and convinced that Burundi is on the brink of "devastating violence"
Contrary to some recent reports, the massive outflows of refuges
appear to have been sparked, not by rumour, but by precise and
targeted campaigns of intimidation and terror. Refugees interviewed
by his Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda
and Tanzania continue to refer to the Imbonerakure militia as the
main threat, but some have also stated that militants from other
groups are also employing violence – a new and disturbing
During an emergency summit on 6 July, the Assistant SecretaryGeneral
added, the East African Community (EAC) issued a Communiqué,
in which were made a number of recommendations, including the
postponement of the presidential elections to July 30th 2015; the
formation of a government of national unity involving both who
participated in the elections and those that did not; and the
deployment of an EAC electoral mission to observe the presidential
For Mr. Zehiroun, that Communiqué is a "clear path forward".
According to the UN, civil unrest erupted on 26 April in Bujumbura
after the ruling CNDD-FDD party elected President Pierre Nkurunziza
on 25 April as its candidate for then-scheduled 26 June presidential
election. Mr. Nkurunziza has been in office for two terms since
2005, and a broad array of actors warned that an attempt to seek a
third term was unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of the
2000 Arusha PEACe and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that
ended a decade of civil war in the country.
The African Union reaffirms the imperative for dialogue and
consensus in order to peacefully resolve the current crisis in
The AU ready to deploy human rights observers and military experts
Addis Ababa, 8 July 2015: The Chairperson of the Commission of the
African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, reiterates the AU's
deep concern at the prevailing situation in Burundi and the serious
risks it poses to peace and security in the country, as well as to
The Chairperson of the Commission welcomes the continued efforts of
the region to assist in finding a peaceful and consensual solution
to the crisis facing Burundi. In this respect, she congratulates the
Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) for holding a 3rd
Emergency Summit on Burundi, in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, on 6 July
2015. She encourages the regional leaders to pursue and intensify
their efforts, bearing in mind the urgency and the seriousness of
the situation. She looks forward to the steps to be taken by
President Yoweri Museveni, in his capacity as Facilitator of the
In this respect, the Commission will continue to work closely with
the EAC and extend all necessary support to the efforts of its
Facilitator. The Chairperson of the Commission emphasizes, once
again, that only genuine dialogue among the Burundian stakeholders
and consensus based on respect of the Arusha Agreement for PEACe and
Reconciliation in Burundi and the Constitution of the country would
make it possible to find a lasting solution to the current crisis.
She stresses the critical importance of national ownership. The
Chairperson of the Commission urges all concerned to eschew violence
and resort exclusively to peaceful means in order to overcome the
current challenges. She underlines the need for the scrupulous
respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Chairperson of the Commission renews the AU's commitment to
contribute to the search for a peaceful solution, within the
framework of the communiqué adopted by the PEACe and Security
Council (PSC) at its 515th meeting held in Johannesburg, South
Africa, on 13 June 2015, at the level of Heads of State and
The Chairperson of the Commission recalls that at its 515th meeting,
the PSC agreed on the immediate deployment of human rights
observers, as well as on the deployment of AU military experts to
verify, in collaboration with the Government and other concerned
actors, the process of disarming the militias and other armed
groups. She further recalls that the just-concluded EAC Summit
called on the Government of Burundi to disarm the Imbonerakure and
other armed youth groups allied to political parties, and requested
the AU to urgently deploy military observers to oversee the
disarmament process. In this respect, the Commission has put in
place a Start-up Team of civilian and military experts ready for
immediate deployment to Burundi, while efforts are underway to
generate additional personnel. The AU looks forward to the urgent
confirmation by the Government of Burundi of its readiness to
receive the Team without any further delay.
East African Community
The 3rd Emergency Summit of Heads Of State of
the East African Community on the Situation In Burundi
EAC Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, July 6, 2015
- The East African Community (EAC) convened the 3rd emergency
summit at the level of heads of state in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, on
6 July 2015, to review the situation in Burundi, under the
chairmanship of H.E. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United
Republic of Tanzania, and in the presence of H.E. President Yoweri
Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda. The summit was also
attended by Hon. Amina Mohamed, cabinet secretary, ministry of
foreign affairs and international trade representing H.E. Uhuru
Kenyatta; Hon. Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, minister for EAC affairs
representing H.E. President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda;
Hon. Allain Nyamitwe, minister for external relations and
international cooperation, representing H.E. President Pierre
Nkurunziza of the Republic of Burundi; Hon. Manuel Agusto, secretary
of state, representing H.E. President Jose dos Santos of the
Republic of Angola; Amb. Thamsanga Museleku, representing H.E.
President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa; Amb. Smaïl
Eheragui, representing H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson
of the African Union Commission.
- The summit was also attended by ministers of EAC partner states,
the Secretary General of the EAC, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera; the
Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for
the Great Lakes Region, Professor Ibrahima Fall; the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for
Central Africa, Professor Abdoulaye Bathily; the executive secretary
of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR),
Professor Ntumba Luaba and members of the EAC Panel Of Eminent
Persons including Justice Joseph Warioba and Amb. Bethuel Kiplagat.
- The summit took place as a follow-up to the EAC emergency summit
of 31st May 2015 and in the context of the communiqué adopted by the
515th meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), held in
Johannesburg, South Africa, on 13 June 2015.
- Given the continuing political impasse in Burundi, the summit
appointed H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, president of the Republic of
Uganda to facilitate dialogue at the highest level, among the
parties in Burundi with a view to finding solutions to all
- The summit also took the following decisions:
- The presidential elections currently scheduled for the 15 July,
2015 should be postponed to July 30th 2015 to allow time for the
facilitator to lead the dialogue.
- Whoever wins the presidential elections in Burundi should form a
government of national unity involving those who participated in
elections and those who did not; and should as necessary provide
seats for special interest groups.
- Whichever political party wins the presidential elections and
all other political parties commit to uphold the Arusha Peace and
Reconciliation Agreement and commit not to amend the constitution of
Burundi in respect to term limits and other fundamental principles
enshrined in the Arusha agreement.
- The EAC to send an electoral observer mission to observe the
presidential elections in the Republic of Burundi.
- The government of Burundi to disarm Imbonerakure and other armed
youth groups allied to political parties.
- The AU should urgently deploy military observers to oversee the
- The extended joint verification mechanism and the joint
intelligence fusion centre of the ICGLR should urgently deploy to
Burundi to verify allegations of the presence of FDLR in the
- The AU is urgently requested to consider and endorse these
- The summit called upon African Union, the United Nations and all
other partners to cooperate with the EAC towards the attainment of
- On behalf of attendees of the summit, H.E. President Yoweri
Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda thanked H.E. President
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania for the
warm and cordial hospitality extended to them and their respective
delegations during their stay in Tanzania.
Done at Dar es Salaam on this 6th day of July, 2015.
Op-Ed: A crucial moment to protect peace in Burundi
Salim Ahmed Salim
Daily Maverick, 8 Jun 2015
Dr Salim Ahmed Salim is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Minister of Defence and Prime Minister of the United Republic of
Tanzania; and former Secretary General of the Organisation of
African Unity, from 1989-2001.
Fifteen years ago, as secretary general of the Organisation of
African Unity, I bore witness to a historic peace agreement in
Arusha, Tanzania, heralding peace for Burundi after 10 gruelling
years of civil war. With Nelson Mandela at my side, I witnessed the
dawn of a new era for a country beset by conflict and in a region
shaken by genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.
I fear hard-earned peace in Burundi is under imminent threat. An
attempted coup d'état last month is the latest indicator that peace
in the country is once again teetering on the brink. Immediate
measures need to be implemented to de-escalate the situation, or the
country could descend into civil war once again.
If there was ever a time for President Pierre Nkurunziza and his
government to display courageous leadership, it is now. For the sake
of all Burundians, we need them to commit to restoring the unity of
the country through dialogue and take a series of concrete steps.
First, the President must acknowledge that the political and
security conditions do not currently exist for peaceful, credible,
transparent and inclusive elections. Creating these conditions must
be the priority of the government and the international community.
Second, the government needs to prove its commitment to democracy by
respecting the basic freedoms of assembly and expression. Protestors
must not be equated with the putschists that attempted to seize
power. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of Nkurunziza's bid for a
third term, Burundians have a right to demonstrate peacefully and
voice their opinions without being violently attacked by police.
Third, the government should remove restrictions on the media and
Internet. Denying access to information creates uncertainty and
further tension. Arbitrary arrests and human rights violations have
equally pernicious consequences and are completely at odds with
international standards and basic rule of law. Those who have been
arbitrarily arrested and detained by police should be released
Finally, the government needs to disassociate with and disband their
violent supporters and militants. The ruling party's youth wing, the
Imbonerakure, is a particular cause for concern. Opposition leaders
must also rein in violent elements on the protesting side.
The onus should not merely be on Burundi's government. The
international community – in particular the East African community,
the African Union, and the United Nations – also have an
indispensable role to play in restoring peace to Burundi.
The African Union's Peace and Security Council issued a strong
statement, expressing its determination to impose sanctions against
those perpetuating violence, calling for the deployment of human
rights monitors and requesting contingency planning for the
potential deployment of a peacekeeping mission to protect civilians.
These strong commitments must be followed through with action.
To deter further violence, the threat of taking “all necessary
measures” against those perpetrating violence must be credible. The
AU should therefore request the UN Security Council to establish a
sanctions regime for Burundi. Likewise, the deployment of human
rights monitors could be a key deterrent against human rights
abuses, so negotiations must begin in earnest to have these monitors
The other essential deterrent is accountability. Those who incite or
commit acts of violence must know that they will be held
individually accountable, regardless of their level or political
affiliation. As a State Party to the International Criminal Court,
those inciting or engaging in atrocity crimes in Burundi will be at
risk of criminal prosecution.
No one should under-estimate what is at stake: a civil war between
1993 and 2005 cost 300,000 lives and displaced one million. Both
Burundi's history and that of its neighbour, Rwanda, has shown the
tragic consequences of failing to act when leaders incite or fail to
contain violence. In Rwanda, over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus
were killed in a 100-day period in 1994. Beyond the possible human
toll, a return to conflict would nullify the Arusha agreement and
have destabilising consequences for the entire region. Without coordinated
international action to de-escalation of the situation, I
am fearful for the consequences.
When I proudly bore witness to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation
Agreement in 2000, I shared the hopes of all Burundi that it would
be preserved as the country's foundation for peace. At this pivotal
moment in Burundi's history, I appeal to all parties to commit to
meaningful dialogue for the preservation of peace in Burundi and the
region as a whole.
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