African Union Troops To Burundi

IAS Prelims 2023

Current Affairs: The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) has agreed to send troops to stop violence in Burundi after talks in which the 54-member bloc warned it would not allow “another genocide”.

These troops will be under the banner of the East African Standby Force (EASF). No decision has been made on the potential size of any force, which would require the agreement of Burundi, or a vote by AU presidents before any deployment is approved.

current affairs
Burundi (Between Congo and Tanzania) on Africa Map

Unrest in Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office. He survived a coup attempt in May, and secured a third term in disputed elections in July.

The proposal by the AU marks the first time it has invoked a rule allowing it to deploy a force without a country’s consent.

The clause in the AU charter allows it to intervene in a member state because of grave circumstances, which include war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The decision comes amid fears that violence could spiral into civil war and possible ethnic conflict.

At a special session convened at the US’ request to discuss the conflict, the UN Human Rights Council resolved to despatch independent investigators to Burundi to probe abuses.

Burundi has so far dismissed proposals for any peacekeeping force. The 10-nation EASF includes Burundi itself, and is one of five AU regional bodies with a mandate to boost “peace and security”. It has never deployed and is currently a force in principle only.

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

The AU team said they had reports of “arbitrary killings and targeted assassinations” as well as arrests, detentions and torture. Their concerns have been widely echoed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that Burundi was on “the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region,” and said he was dispatching an envoy to push for urgent talks to end the crisis.

Earlier Ban said that deploying UN peacekeepers to Burundi was an option to quell the violence but recommended that a UN team be first sent to help bolster dialogue.