AU to send rights, military observers to Burundi

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) addresses a press conference in Bujumbura Saturday, President Pierre Nkurunziza (L) looks on

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) addresses a press conference in Bujumbura Saturday, President Pierre Nkurunziza (L) looks on

The African Union (AU) is due deploy 200 hundred human rights observers to Burundi to monitor the situation the Central African state, South African President Jacob Zuma announced Saturday at the conclusion of a two-day AU high-level delegation of five heads of states to Burundi.

Speaking to the press before boarding leaving the Burundian capital Bujumbura Jacob Zuma said the decision was reached after discussions with the government.

The development comes after months of strong opposition to both rights investigators and the AU proposal to send 5000 peacekeepers to Burundi, by the authorities in Bujumbura.

Mr. Zuma revealed the AU delegation had expressed its concerns about the levels of deadly violence, loss of life, and political instability in the country to the leaders. He however, indicated that all parties to the 10-month conflict strongly committed to resolve it through an inclusive and peaceful dialogue.

“We believe strongly that the solution to Burundi political problems can be attained only through inclusive and peaceful engagement,” he told reporters at Bujumbura International Airport.

The South African leader and head of the AU team stated Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will go on facilitating in the stalled talks to end the deadly violence.

“We want to emphasize the importance for all the people of Burundi to participate in the inclusive dialogue that is being facilitated by President Museveni,” Zuma added.

President Zuma disclosed that the government of Burundi remains committed to continue putting in place steps to open up political space and ensure freedom of press.

Zuma also took the opportunity to appeal to the international community to restore support to the conflict-blighted nation in an effort to enable Burundians to find lasting peace and development.

“In this regard, we urge the international community to restore the provision of assistance to Burundi as requested by the people of Burundi so that they can continue with building their country,” he said.

President Jacob Zuma headed fellow leaders President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Macky Sall of Senegal, Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, in their 25-26 February visit to Burundi to convince Burundians to resume political talks geared at ending the crisis.

During their tour, the African leaders met with various government leaders, members of the the opposition, civil society, and former president Domitien Ndayizeye as they acquainted themselves with the Burundi question.

Meanwhile, the South African head of state was stranded in Burundi for hours after his jet experienced “technical problems”. The South African military had to send in an emergency aircraft to transport the president back home Saturday.