US deploys Marines to Bujumbura, EAC leaders schedule crisis meeting in TZ over Burundi

Jakaya Kikwete, the Chairman of the East African Community and host of this weekend's crisis meeting on Burundi

Jakaya Kikwete, the Chairman of the East African Community and host of this weekend’s crisis meeting on Burundi

At least twenty marines have been deployed to protect the US embassy in Burundi, the US Defense Department has confirmed.

The marines secretly entered the country this week and have been deployed around the US embassy in Bujumbura.

The deployment of the marines comes after political violence and killing of civilians and opposition leaders is escalating in the Central African nation. The shooting death of Zedi Feruzi, head of the Union for Peace and Development (UPD), one of the opposition parties has shaken the already fragile country.

Mid this month, the US government issued a travel advisory, to all US citizens to Burundi because of the ongoing protests and violence.

Sources in Burundi indicate that some US citizens, especially missionaries, have remained in the country while others have decided to flee to regional countries.

The US State Department has also urged all Burundians to refrain from violence and resolve the current crisis in Burundi through dialogue

The US has said it will continue to monitor closely the situation in Burundi and is prepared to take additional measures against those who commit, incite or ‎promote violence and other human rights abuses and violations.

Meanwhile, Regional foreign ministers and heads of state will this Sunday 31, meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in an effort to discuss the deteriorating situation in Burundi, but it is not yet clear whether Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza will attend given the fact that he was almost deposed three weeks ago when he attended a similar summit in Dar es Salaam.

On May 13, as soon as Nkurunziza left for Dar es Salaam renegade generals within the Burundian military led by Major General Godefroid Niyombare announced they were dismissing the president and taking over power.

The attempted coup was foiled, Nkurunziza returned, fired ministers, ordered arrest of several coup plotters, closure of private radio stations that had announced given airtime to the generals as they announced the doomed coup.

Also as the situation in Burundi worsens day by day, the international community is urging all stakeholders to resume talks to end the crisis. They were suspended following the assassination of Zed Feruzi, on Saturday, which prompted the civil society and the opposition to withdraw from the dialogue facilitated by the Special envoy of the UN Secretary General Saïd Djinit.

Angry protestors burning tires, Tuesday in Kinama Commune, North of Bujumbura

Angry protestors burning tires, Tuesday in Kinama Commune, North of Bujumbura

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, one of the organizers of the ongoing protests against the third term says consultations are underway for the resumption of the dialogue. He says they are ready to return in case the ruling party shows good will to take into consideration their proposals.

“We are being consulted one by one. If we find it’s reasonable for us to participate, we will resume talks,” Mbonimpa said.

In a related development, President Nkurunziza has issued a decree ordering various sectors of the government to donate financial contributions so as to enable the State to organize the forthcoming elections.

According to the decree, several activities of various ministries must be suspended as part of their budget is to be earmarked for electoral process. These include ministries of Agriculture, Defense, Education, and Energy, among others. A total of Burundi Francs 44 billion is required to fund the elections. Since several donors have announced suspension of aid to the country, Willy Nyamitwe, the president’s spokesman says it’s the duty of the government to take due steps to observe the electoral calendar.