NewsEast & Horn AfricaBurundi: Troop deployment to take centre stage at AU meeting


Posted on Friday, 22 January 2016 14:07

Burundi: Troop deployment to take centre stage at AU meeting

By Crystal Orderson

File photo©ReutersThere is an expectation Burundi's Pierre Nkurinziza will have no choice but accept the deployment of African Union troops to his country when the powerful African Peace and Security Council meets at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa next week.

Nkurinziza has been at loggerheads with the AU on the deployment of the AU forces to his country calling the proposed 5,000 deployment an "invasion" force.

The deployment of soldiers depends on reaching a consensus amongst member states

In December, the AU said it would deploy thousands of soldiers to the country to protect civilians. It has also threatened sanctions against powerful individuals in Burundi.

Human rights activists say so far there has been inaction on the part of the AU despite the dire human rights atrocities taking place.

Addressing a media seminar on governance and human rights in Africa, ahead of the AU summit, a senior legal scholar close to the process, who did not want to be named as he is submitting a report to the AU, said "we may see Burundi accepting the deployment of the AU troops with specific recommendations on the size of the deployment and other issues likely to be discussed".

With several UN Security Council members on a fact finding mission in Burundi at the moment, the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC), also known as the nerve centre of the AU, is set to start meeting this weekend to discuss a number of security issues on the continent.

The 15 council members were met by pro-government demonstrators, who were telling them to stop meddling in the country's affairs, when they arrived in Bujumbura. The deployment of the peacekeepers in Burundi is, however, set to take centre stage at the annual AU meeting.

More than 400 people have died in the violence and at least 230,000 have fled to neighbouring countries since the disputed election in April.

Sources told The Africa Report that the AU has been vocal in its critique and the specific action it wants in Burundi, but some member states differ on what should be done. 

"The deployment of soldiers depends on reaching a consensus amongst member states and the PSC's report that would be submitted to the Heads of State meeting," a source said.

The source said the issue of the specific deployment and financial contributions to the troops also be under discussion.

The AU must keep member states accountable to ensure they protect human rights and the enforcement of sanctions on certain member states, but countries like Burundi do not want to accept they are in violation of these rights, the human rights expert added.

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