Burundi prepares for humanitarian intervention

Wednesday is the deadline for the final decision of the Burundian government in dealing with the present conflict.
Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the African Union Commission said that the peacekeepers, approved Saturday by the African Union Peace and Security Council, are meant to prevent further violence and protect citizens. But the deputy presidential spokesman of Burundi, Jean-Claude Karerwa, said Sunday that his country will not agree to the deployment of African Union peacekeepers. He added that peacekeepers would be considered an invasion and an occupation force.
Geography and history

Burundi is located between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda in east-central Africa. Burundi was once part of German East Africa. Belgium won a League of Nations mandate in 1923, and subsequently Burundi, with Rwanda, was transferred to the status of a United Nations trust territory. In 1962, Burundi gained independence and became a kingdom under Mwami Mwambutsa IV, a Tutsi. A Hutu rebellion took place in 1965, leading to brutal Tutsi retaliations. After that, there were bloody conflicts between Tutsi and Hutu. About 300,000 people have been massacred since the 70's. 85% of Burundians are Hutu, with Tutsis being the next largest ethnic group at 14%. It is important to mention that most African countries with a colonial past have artificial boundaries that separate one ethnic group into a few parts or bring a couple ethnic groups into one territorial subject where they need to find a path for political cooperation.

Sovereignty or international responsibility?
The U.N. Security Council Saturday urged all Burundian stakeholders to fully cooperate with the mission of the African Union in support of the effective implementation of its mandate. The mandate of the 5,000 strong force, known as the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi, is to create an environment where dialogue can be enabled among Burundian stakeholders. The UN also called on African countries to pledge troops and police.
A human rights group says independent experts should investigate Burundi's forces for alleged human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions, and rape and looting during the unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza's (Hutu) extended tenure. The last serious clash was on December 11th when an unidentified group attacked three military bases. Burundi's security forces responded by going on a rampage in parts of the capital, Bujumbura, regarded as centers of the opposition. 87 people died in the incident.
Color revolution, African style

Revolts in Burundi began after the announcement that president Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third term in office. The announcement was followed by street protests that turned into a failed coup in May. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July, but the violence has since increased. Many Burundians and the international community maintain that Nkurunziza's extended tenure violates the two-term limit imposed by the constitution.


The U.N. authorized the deployment and has started to identify possible U.N. support for the initiative. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the December 28th start of dialogue between the government and opposition in Kampala, Uganda. In reality there is not clarity about the legality of a third term for presidency, because in the first term Nkurunziza was elected by the parliament, not the people. Ethnic divisions still have an effect on the politics and UN officials are afraid that the fragile state may fall into bloody conflict again.