We have no orders to deploy in Burundi, says MONUSCO
Despite recent beef up United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) forces along DRC-Burundi border, officials have dismissed reports it is preparing to send peacekeepers to the tiny conflict-ravaged Central African state.
Burundian residents of Buganda Commune in the North-Western province of Cibitoke, near Rusizi River at the border with DRC have reported seeing big numbers of MONUSCO forces being stationed in the area in the area over the last few weeks but MONUSCO says the deployment is routine and that it is not true they are preparing to deploy across the border.
“Yes, there is a lot of confusion and rumors about a future deployment of MONUSCO in Burundi. No ! We are receiving orders from the UN Headquarters and up to now nothing like that has been given to us as order or instruction to move to Burundi, not at all,” Prosper Basse, MONUSCO spokesman told Afrika Reporter in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Mr. Basse’s reassurances notwithstanding, residents are expressing worry and anxiety about the motive behind the troop buildup.
“As you can see they came so closer to Burundi, we don’t know the reason behind as there is no war in our country and we don’t know what they are planning,” one Pierre Nsengiyunva, resident of Cibitoke said.
“We saw them coming and installing their tents, and later on more troops arrived. We saw our security forces, including army officers from Bujumbura who proceeded down to Rusizi River but we don’t know what was happening,” said Meschak Nibizi, another resident.
MONUSCO officials say the move is part of the normal process of stabilizing the Democratic Republic of Congo and that it is unrelated with the proposed African Union peacekeepers in Burundi.
Prosper Basse revealed the troop reinforcement along the border between the two nations was in line with preventing the turmoil in Burundi from spilling over to DRC.
“As you know, the political situation in Burundi has been very tense and we did have some security, political and even humanitarian issues, knowing that our brothers and sisters fled Burundi because of instability. So Monusco has since a long time ago taken some contingency plans to support Congolese security forces and best assist and protect the country due to that insecurity,” Mr. Basse said.
DRC has set up a camp at Lusenda locality in Fizi, South Kivu to host Burundians fleeing the current crisis but MONUSCO spokesperson said there have been reports of bad elements infiltrating the refugees thereby prompting the UN force step up security measures so as to protect “Congolese civilians as mandated by the UN Security Council.”
Meanwhile, following Burundi’s strong objection to the African Union recent proposal to deploy 5000 troops to the country, the continental body has dropped the measure to send in peacekeepers without Bujumbura’s consent.
At the just concluded 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, African leaders resolved to pursue dialogue with the Burundian authorities until the two parties arrive at a compromise.
The AU will in the coming days dispatch a high level delegation to Burundi to meet with President Pierre Nkurunziza over the issue. And the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is planning to visit Bujumbura for the same purpose.
President Nkurunziza has threatened to attack the “invading forces” if the AU goes ahead and deploys foreign troops to Burundi with the approval of the government.