AU, EAC urged to take action on Burundi

Saturday November 21 2015

By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI, TEA Special Correspondent

The African Union and the East African Community are under immense pressure to take decisive action on Burundi.

Up to six civil society organisations have petitioned the East African Legislative Assembly and the African Union for urgent and decisive action on the deteriorating political, human rights and humanitarian situation in Burundi.

If the assembly endorses the petition, Burundi will be suspended from the EAC and the African Union.

The Pan African Lawyers Union (Palu) and the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) want EALA to make strong recommendation to the EAC Summit of Heads of State that Burundi should not assume the chairmanship of the EAC until it brings to an end the civil strife caused by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term in office.

The petitioners also call on EALA to request the African Union to intervene in the political and humanitarian crisis, citing its comprehensive and far reaching legal and institutional framework, which includes the Constitutive Act of the African Union, 2000 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Arbitrary killings

The petitioners urged the AU to take concrete steps to prevent Burundi from descending into genocide or mass atrocities. Such steps, the petition says, include enhancing the numbers and capacity of the human rights monitors and military monitors deployed to the country. They further call for sanctions against the regime.

“The heads of state appointed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to mediate the situation in Burundi. But this has not resulted in any success,” said Donald Deya, chief executive of Palu.

“Burundi needs legitimacy to resume peace.”

He said that if the various measures proposed in their petition do not work after a month, then Burundi should be suspended from the Community and the AU.

“The AU should also take necessary measures by appointing a new mediator other than President Museveni,” he said, adding that the AU stands to have more impact.

The petition states that there have been numerous reports of assassinations, extrajudicial and arbitrary killings of over 130 persons and wants EALA to condemn what it terms arbitrary killings as well as the inordinate use of force by the police, security officials and members of a youth wing group, Imbonerakure.