Burundi: Parliament rubbishes genocide talk, warn AU not to dare send in peacekeeping troops

DONT DARE: Burundi parliamentarians in session. The lawmakers have joined presidency in rejecting African Union's peacekeeping proposal to send in 5000 troops to Burundi.

DONT DARE: Burundi parliamentarians in session. The lawmakers have joined the presidency in rejecting African Union’s peacekeeping proposal to send in 5000 troops to Burundi.

Burundi’s National Assembly convened this Monday roundly condemned the international community’s continued allegations that the country is on the brink of a civil war or genocide.

Both the senate and the lower chamber also strongly spoke out against the African Union proposal to deploy peacekeeping troops to the Central African state in bid to stem the deadly violence.

Meeting at Parliamentary Buildings in the capital Bujumbura, legislators blamed the genocide narrative on the politicians in exile saying former government officials have tarnished the country’s image by spreading unfounded reports and propaganda.

Hon. Victor Burikukiye, from the Northern Province of Muyinga, said the decision to send in foreign troops was made by a handful of AU officials whose intention is to disrupt Burundi. The lawmaker cautions the AU to reconsider its misguided decision.

“We were invaded by a neighboring country, the AU did not say anything; countries like Libya were disrupted, AU did not say anything. The AU should first resolve problems in Somalia, Western Sahara, Central Africa, and elsewhere, rather than consider sending troops to a peaceful country like Burundi,” he said.

For Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo, the African Union ought to drop plans to “invade” Burundi,
“For any country that would announce to contribute those troops, we as members of parliament, are ready to ask their parliaments whether they will have authorized their armies to invade Burundi,” Ndikuriyo said.

Some legislators went further and claimed the proposed peacekeepers might even join anti-government forces and foment rebellious activities.

Edward Nduwimana, the second vice president of the National Assembly told fellow legislators that “If they (peacekeeping) come, they can for example decide to go to Cibitoke (opposition stronghold), cordon it off and order that no one should enter the area, that is how they create and sustain a rebellion.”

Monday’s parliamentary debate was organised as a response to the growing international community concerns that the situation in Burundi was rapidly escalating into a civil war or genocide as was the case with neighboring Rwanda in 1994, whereby about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically murdered by the then Hutu regime.

Both Hutu and Tutsi members of Burundi parliament have dismissed “fabrications” concocted by irresponsible politicians whose intention is to smear the image of the country in an effort to gain power through undemocratic means.

“As a Tutsi MP, I would like to calm the hearts of the Burundian people and the world that there is no and there will be no genocide in Burundi,” said Hon. Evelyne Butoyi, a female MP from Bujumbura rural.

Hon. Edward Nduwimana, another  Tutsi MP from the Northern Kayanza Province, who is also the 2nd Deputy-Speaker, says the concept of genocide has been floated by politicians who fear to compete in elections.

Nduwimana’s view is echoed by Jean-Pierre Sinzinkayo, MP from Bujumbura.

“These politicians are not representing any Tutsi. We did not delegate them to speak for us,” he said.

Gloriose Hakizimana, Woman Hutu MP from the central province of Muramvya, the genocide narrative has been perpetuated to deflect public attention from the 1972 genocide “whereby the then government planned and implemented the extermination of people.”

Ms. Hakizimana argues the 2000 landmark Arusha Peace Agreement is in place to purposely prevent Rwanda-like scenario to take place in Burundi as ethnic representation has been well defined and is currently well observed in all the country’s institutions.

A few deputies however, called on the government to do all it takes to stop the day-to-day killings of innocent civilians thereby disarming whoever might want to use them to achieve their selfish political gains. Some wonder why current killings have garnered much attention yet after the 2010 elections “thousands” were killed.

Recent spike in the deaths in Burundi, particularly the recent discovery of nearly 90 dead bodies of young men killed execution style in Bujumbura’s opposition neighbourhoods, has prompted the African Union Peace and Security to decide to send 5000 peacekeepers to protect civilians.

Over the weekend, the United Nations Security Council had given Burundi government a four-day window in which to embrace AU’s proposal but the latter has vehemently voiced disapproval. The African Union has indicated it would forcefully deploy the peacekeepers even without Bujumbura’s consent.