The top US official for Africa has flown to Dar es Salaam for the East African Community’s emergency ministerial meeting on Burundi, the State Department announced Monday.
The involvement of Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield underscores the high degree of US concern over the potentially explosive situation in Burundi.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, warned last week that the crisis in Burundi could destabilise the Great Lakes region.
Ms Thomas-Greenfield will take part in talks on the sidelines of the EAC’s May 11-14 meeting in Tanzania, the State Department said.
Her presence highlights “US support for the Arusha Agreement and political dialogue among all parties to ensure peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Burundi,” the department added.
“The United States commends the EAC for its leadership and engagement on Burundi,” it said.
Washington has previously declared its opposition to the decision by Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term. The US says his action violates the terms of the Arusha Agreement that was signed in 2000 to put an end to a bloody internal conflict in Burundi.
Speaking at the UN last Friday, Ambassador Power raised the threat of US sanctions against those deemed responsible for fomenting violence in Burundi.
Several activists taking part in protests against President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term have been killed during the past week in the capital city, Bujumbura.
More than 50,000 Burundians have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo as insecurity worsened.