Uganda: we will deploy to Burundi when “genocide line is crossed”

President Museveni's role as mediator has received criticism as the Uganda focuses more on his reelection campaign.

President Museveni’s role as mediator has received criticism as the Uganda focuses more on his reelection campaign.

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda not hesitate to deploy the Ugandan military to the conflict-wrecked Central African nation of Burundi when the ongoing killings there reaches the genocide threshold, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revealed.

According to the State Minister in Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem, Museveni is closely following the Burindi turmoil through intelligence briefings and when and if he deems the conflict has exacerbated into genocide he will dispatch the a peacekeeping force in consultation with the region and international community.

“Based on these briefs, if he evaluated the situation in Burundi as degenerating into genocide, he would not hesitate to deploy the Uganda People’s Defence Forces,” Oryem told the Nairobi-based The East African.

Many including the United States have criticized the Ugandan leader, who is also the East African Community-appointed facilitator in the Burundi conflict, for neglecting the issue is dedicates all his energy and focus to the presidential campaigns in Uganda.

But State Minister Oryem denied Museveni has put the issue on the back burner saying the situation in Burundi concerns not only Uganda.

“In short, the Burundi crisis does not fall squarely on President Museveni and EAC, but is a matter to be handled by a combination of regional forces, the AU and the entire international community,” he noted.

Uganda’s lackluster mediation role in Burundi is increasingly being questioned especially following Saturday’s discovery of 87 dead bodies of young people scattered on the streets, and ditches of the capital Bujumbura, and Oryem’s defence of Kampala will not stop the criticism.

The latest upsurge of deadly violence is heaping pressure on regional leaders like Museveni and the international community to force a crisis intervention mechanism that would ultimately bring the players in the conflict back to the negotiating table in bid to halt the killings.

“The East African Community should immediately convene high-level political dialogue between the government and opposition to defuse the situation. Recent indications from the region suggest no serious remaining barriers to these talks, so there should be no further delay in commencing them,” John Kirby, US State Department Spokesman said Friday.

Ever since  he was appointed by the East African Community (EAC) heads of state summit in August, President Museveni has visit Bujumbura once as he sought to jumpstart the failed talks, he has since delegated the mediation responsibilities to his Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga.

Neither Museveni nor Kiyonga has made strides in terms of getting the government in Bujumbura to talk to the opposition as they try to resolve their differences diplomatically.

EAC, UN, and the African Union have all floated sending a peacekeeping force to Burundi in hopes of stemming the deadly violence but nothing has materialized on the ground.

The death toll in the conflict that started in April has now surpassed 300.