AUAfrican Union (AU) has agreed in principal to send troops to Burundi to forestall the Central Africans descent into another bloody civil war.

AU said on Thursday that it would not allow genocide to take place in Burundi as the UN ordered a probe into widespread abuses and warned of looming civil war.

“Africa will not allow another genocide to take place on its soil,” the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) said on its Twitter handle as its members discussed the crisis in Burundi, adding there was “an urgent need for action to stop the killings.”

The message came amid growing global pleas to end violence in Burundi that has left more than 400 people dead since April, with increasingly virulent hate speech sparking fears the country could experience another Rwanda-style atrocities.

Burundi began descent into bloodshed in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek a controversial third term of office, which he later went on to win in July amidst violent crackdown on those standing on his way.

AU rights investigators this week returned from a fact-finding mission to Burundi expressing “great concern” after witnessing some of the heaviest fighting in the troubled country for months.


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. For instance, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon warned this week 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.

Cusp of civil war:

And in Geneva Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights Council, meeting in special session, unanimously decided to urgently send investigators to the central African country to investigate widespread rights abuses.

UN rights chief Zeid warned that the country of around 11 million, which has seen more than 220,000 flee the violence, was “on the very cusp of civil war”.

He insisted that “the situation needs urgent, concerted, decisive attention from the international community,” stressing that “the involvement of the International Criminal Court in this regard would be of great importance.”

Adama Dieng, a UN adviser for the prevention of genocide, warned the council that Burundi “appears to be on the verge of a descent into violence that could escalate into atrocity crimes.”

He voiced alarm that hate speech and rhetoric is currently being used in Burundi that resembles that seen ahead of the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, where some 800,000 people — mostly members of the minority Tutsi community — were slaughtered in the 100-day orgy of violence largely by ethnic Hutus.

By Olisemeka Obeche (with AFP reports)

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