EU Parliament calls for Burundi dialogue as violence rages

Majority of the refugees are women and children

More than 144,000 Burundians have fled to regional countries since the conflict began in April

The European Parliament has stressed yet again that it is only through dialogue and consensus involving all parties to the Burundi conflict that a lasting political solution can be achieved in the interest of all the Burundian people.

In its July 9 resolution on the situation in Burundi, the European Parliament is urging all stakeholders in the conflict to resume dialogue on all the points of disagreement, expressing its supports to the mediation efforts led by the AU, EAC and the United Nations.

The Brussels-based body also is pleading for an immediate end to violence and political intimidation of opponents and the disarmament of all armed youth groups allied to political parties.

In addition, EU lawmakers are condemning “the decision of the Burundian Government to go ahead with the elections despite the critical prevailing political and security situation and given that the election process has been seriously marred by restrictions on independent media, excessive use of force against demonstrators, a climate of intimidation for opposition parties and civil society and a lack of confidence in the election authorities.”

Echoing the East African Community leaders and the African Union, EU legislators are requesting Bujumbura authorities to postpone the presidential poll set for July 15 until conditions on the ground permit a peaceful, credible, free and fair electoral process.

As the country is still paralyzed by the crisis sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for the controversial third term, EU parliament is expressing “concern at the number of victims and the number of human rights violation cases reported since the beginning of the crisis, particularly those abuses attributed to members of the Imbonerakure,” the youth wing affiliated with the ruling CNDD-FDD and the president.

The European Parliament has called upon “CNDD-FDD to take immediate action to disarm the youth militia and stop its members from intimidating and attacking opponents and to ensure that those responsible for abuses are brought to justice.”

Meanwhile, violence continues to push the death toll up in the Central African nation.

Two people were killed in an armed attack in downtown Bujumbura early Friday morning.

Witnesses at the scene say two armed men, one in plainclothes another one in police uniform opened fire at a foreign currency agent, the police escort accompanying him and a vendor near a T2000 Chinese store.

Later on a grenade explosion injured two people not far from the previous incident. Police says investigation is ongoing to identify the perpetrators.

Outside the capital Bujumbura, an unknown armed group Friday morning attacked Kabarore Commune in the northern province of Kayanza, at the border with Rwanda.

Reports indicate two of the attackers have been captured.

The United Nations warned Thursday the situation in Burundi risks spiraling into full scale violence and bloodshed.

“Burundi is on the brink again [and] the grave danger the country faces should not be underestimated, given the increasing polarization and the apparent choice of Burundian leaders to put personal interest before those of the country,” the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the Security Council.