Burundian lawmakers oppose peacekeepers, downplay genocide fears | Africa | DW | 21.12.2015
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Burundian lawmakers oppose peacekeepers, downplay genocide fears

Lawmakers from Burundi's ruling party have endorsed their government's opposition to the proposed deployment of an AU peacekeeping force to their country, where chronic violence is stoking fears of civil war.

Both houses of the Burundian parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, debated on Monday (21.12.2015) the proposed deployment of an African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission to the Central African country, which was vehemently rejected by the government in Bujumbura over the weekend.

"Burundi is at peace," said Pascal Nyabenda, chairman of the National Assembly and the ruling CNDD-FDD party whose supporters dominate parliament.

"There are troubles in just a few areas of Bujumbura," the capital, Nyabenda said, adding that AU troops were not needed.

Other lawmakers complained of Western "interference" and biased media coverage of Burundi's crisis and rejected talk of a looming genocide as "rumors" with "no basis."

Reverien Ndikuriyo, President of the Burundian Senate, said lawmakers would be visiting the countries which were preparing to send troops to Burundi.

"We will ask their parliaments if they want to attack Burundi," he said.

Peacekeepers to Burundi

On Friday the 54-nation AU said it would send a 5,000 strong force to Burundi to halt the violence amid fears that the country was sliding towards civil war.

The announcement came two days after the bloc's Peace and Security Council met over the Burundi crisis and agreed it would not allow "another genocide" on African soil.

Agathon Rwasa, second vice-speaker of Burundi's National Assembly, said the government should treat insecurity a serious problem.

He also said politicians "should not take advantage of their ethnic background when pursuing political goals."

Tatien Sibomana is an MP from the oppostion Union for National Progress (UPRONA). He refused to take up the seat he won in the June 2015 parliamentary elections because he said they were neither fair nor credible.

Burundi Gewalt und Tote

Burundi descended into violence in April 2015 when Presdient Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term

Sibomana said that "serious organizations" like the AU and the UN "did not trivialize crimes like genocide."

He also accused the dominant CNDD-FDD party of "combating with all its energy foreign intervention that would come to protect the population."

The AU gave Bujumbura four days to agree to the deployment but warned it would send in troops anyway.

No details have been given about which countries might send troops or when they would be deployed.

'Invasion and occupation'

Burundi's deputy presidential spokesman, Jean-Claude Karerwa, told AFP his country would not accept an AU force on its territory.

If it came without the government's approval "it would be an invasion and occupation force and the Burundian government would reserve the right to act accordingly," he said.

Karerwa added that the resolution "must first be endorsed by the UN Security Council" before it could be applied.

However, late on Saturday the UN Security Council urged all Burundian stakeholders to cooperate with the proposed AU peacekeeping mission.

It condemned the violence on all sides and the "persistence of impunity as well as of inflammatory statements made by Burundian political leaders."

Burundi descended into bloodshed in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July.

Months of street protests in Burundi have devolved into regular armed attacks with gunfire disrupting the nights and dead bodies appearing on city streets almost every day.

Attacks targeting the security forces have escalated, with rebels armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars attacking police convoys and targeting government installations.

Last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was dispatching an envoy for urgent talks to end the crisis, warning that Burundi was, "on the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region."

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