African Union Concerned About Potential Civil War in Burundi

Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, an editor of Pan-African News Wire, to discuss a recent summit of African Union leaders in Ethiopia.The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Well tell me overall, we are looking at the African Union summit and one of the main issues right now is Burundi. Why is that the case and can it make a difference, the decisions that they are trying to make about sending a 5,000 armed force into that country?

Azikiwe: It is a major issue because of the history of Burundi. Between 1993 and 2005 there was a civil war there which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Earlier last year, the President Pierre Nkurunziza demonstrated his willingness to serve a third term. That has been a major source of controversy inside of the country. There have been tens of thousands of refugees who have fled Burundi. At the same time, there has been the servicing of an armed guerrilla organization which has lost attacks in several areas of the country including outside the capital.

So African leaders are very concerned that another civil war does not erupt in Burundi and that is why this issue is going to be a major cause of concern for the AU. However, the government there under President Nkurunziza says they oppose any deployment of African Union so-called peace-keeping forces inside the country. There is a plan to deploy 5,000 of them but the government has not bow down to this proposal.

Press TV: Do you think it is likely that the UN can exert at least enough power in order for the government to accept the peace-keeping forces or not? Do you think that the government will be able to get control of the situation on its own?

Azikiwe: Well there needs to be a more aggressive diplomatic initiative in relationship to the conflict in Burundi. Perhaps there could be talks between the government and the opposition parties, maybe even in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia or perhaps in Chad which is taking over the chairpersonship of the African Union. Chadian President Idriss Déby is taking over from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. That could be an avenue to set aside a weekend or however long it takes to try to come down with some type of either national unity government or some resolution to the conflict in Burundi.

There are also issues surrounding the South Sudan, Africa as well as the world’s new state which is attempting to build a unity government there as a result of conflicts over the last two years.

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