International Envoys for the Great Lakes Region of Africa have said that it is urgent to have an East African Standby Force ready to intervene in Burundi in case situation keeps deteriorating.
In a joint communiqué, the envoys said; “given the stakes of escalation, they request “AU Commission to expedite and finalize, in consultation with EAC and East African Standby Force, the contingency planning in order to respond to possibility of much wider-spread violence, should the situation so require.”
The Envoys expressing this concern include; Said Djinnit, the envoy of the UN Secretary General, Ibrahima, Fall African Union Special Envoy, Thomas Perriello and U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Koen Vervaeke.
The European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region, and Frank De, Belgian Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region also gave the idea a thumbs up.
The joint statement follows an earlier call by African Union Peace and Security Council’s (AUPSC) to Burundi, to quickly resume the mediation process which is coordinated by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
For this to work, the envoys recommend full cooperation of the Burundi government and all concerned stakeholders with the mediator.
President Museveni was appointed by the 3rd Extra-ordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the East African community (EAC) in July 2015 to lead and facilitate dialogue at the highest level in a bid to find a lasting solution to the current political situation in Burundi.
However, not much was done since then; the situation in Burundi has worsened.
More than 120 people have died and 190,000 people forced to flee Burundi since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a third term in office.
Rwanda hosts thousands of refugees fleeing Burundi.
All envoys agreed that, “Only a genuine and inclusive dialogue, based on the respect of the Arusha Agreement, would enable the Burundian stakeholders to find a consensual solution to the crisis facing their country, preserve peace and consolidate democracy and the rule of law.”
Last week Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, said that Burundi has failed to deal with its crises and turned into blaming other countries, including Rwanda, for its political nightmare.
“Burundi’s problem is not Rwanda, Burundi’s problem is Burundi,” Mushikiwabo said.
She said that Rwanda is not insensitive to Burundian problem, “but it’s not our mandate to solve the problem. I can assure you Rwanda has done all it can do.”