Violence rocks Bujumbura, AU calls for dialogue

President Pierre Nkurunziza addressing the nation, Wednesday

President Pierre Nkurunziza

The Peace and Security Council of the African Union has expressed deep concerns over the stalemate in the crisis in Burundi as the political dialogue mediated by the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region did not produce expected results.

In the final communiqué issued at the end of the AU Heads of States and Government on June 13 in Johannesburg, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union stressed that the current situation could jeopardize the important gains resulting from the Arusha Peace Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, and hence affect stability of the region.

As violence is gradually characterizing the campaign against the 3rd term bid of President Pierre Nkurunziza especially in the capital Bujumbura, the Council has called on all Burundian stakeholders to “show restraint and to place the national interest above all other considerations”.

The Council reiterates that “only dialogue and consensus, based on the respect of the Arusha Agreement and the Constitution of Burundi, will make it possible to find a lasting political solution, ensuring the preservation and consolidation of peace” and the rule of law.

As the government of Burundi has unilaterally announced a new electoral calendar as regard the recommendations of the May 31 extraordinary Summit of EAC Heads of States in Dar es Salaam that urged the postponement of elections for at least a month and half, the Council has recommended that the date of the election shall be set by consensus between the Burundian parties.

As opposition parties and civil society organizations have called for an international military force to disarm to withdraw arms in the wrong hands, the Council has suggested that AU military experts be deployed to verify the process of disarming the militias and other armed groups.

However, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union did not say anything about the controversial candidacy of the current president Pierre Nkurunziza who is bidding for his third term, the source of the crisis shaking Burundi.

The Chairman of the African Union however, took swipe at leaders like Nkurunziza who find excuses to cling on to power. Without mentioning President Nkurunziza by name, Mugabe said it shouldn’t make a difference whether one is elected by parliament or the people, that what counts is whether or not a leader has been in office for two terms.

Mugabe, who has been in office since 1980, was referring to the fact that President Nkurunziza’s rationale to run for the third term is that he was elected by parliament for his first term in 2005 yet the country’s constitution says the head of state shall be elected to a 5-year term, renewable once, by the general electorate.

Meanwhile, cases of insecurity have been reported in many part of the capital Bujumbura. Grenade explosions were heard Sunday night in Cibitoke, north of the capital, Nyakabiga, and Rohero downtown, and Musaga south of the capital.

On Monday morning, a grenade was thrown at the entrance of Jérémie Minani, the spokesman of the Arusha Movement comprising all opposition parties and all organizations involved in the campaign against the third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza, but not victim was reported.

According to him, the attack just aims at silencing everyone combatting the 3rd term of President Nkurunziza.

“The explosion of the grenade at the gate of my office located near the seat SNR (national Intelligence Service) is linked to the campaign we lead. Though we have to wait for the outcome of the investigation, I believe it’s just a way to frighten us,” Minani told the press, adding that prior to this attack, he underwent acts of intimidation and threats.

Later at night on Sunday a heavy gun fire was heard around the National Radio, which created panic among residents downtown, who recalled the foiled coup d’état of May 13. The spokesman of the police force said the gunfire resulted from a military at a police post in the vicinity who had a nightmare and began to shoot, prompting the guard at the National Radio to think of an attack and then retaliated.

In all those attacks, no victim has been reported so far and police says they are investigating to identify the perpetrators.