EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has called on Burundi’s government and opposition to meet outside the strife-torn country in a bid to stop a succession of killings and massive displacement.
Speaking at the Valletta migration summit in Malta on Thursday (12 Novemner), Mogherini joined forces with United Nations and African Union to appeal for the peace talks, fearing what she called a “deep regional crisis”.
The bloodshed since the spring has raised fears of another wave of massacres like in neighbouring Rwanda in the 1990s.
The UN Security Council is expected to unanimously adopta French-drafted resolution later today, aimed at ending violence in Burundi that many fear could escalate into Rwanda-style mass killings.
At least 240 people have been killed and more than 200,000 Burundians have fled the country since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a controversial bid for a third term in office.
“We agreed on the urgency to convene a meeting of the Burundian government and opposition representatives in Addis Ababa, or in Kampala under the chairmanship of (Uganda’s) President Museveni,” Mogherini said in a statement also signed by, African Union chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and United Nations Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson.
“No effort can be spared to achieve an end to the violence and to foster a political solution.”
“Alarmed by the widening divisions, the threat for many more lives and a deep regional crisis, we pledged to work closely together and to mobilise all our means and instruments to prevent a further deterioration of the situation,” the officials added.
According to Amnesty International, there are daily reports of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torture.
On Monday (9 November), Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for East Africa, said: “Incendiary rhetoric from top officials is fuelling fears that the already tense situation in Burundi could spiral out of control, leading to mass killings.”
According to Amnesty, last month the President of the Senate, Reverien Ndirukiyo, said that the police would soon go “to work”. He urged officials to identify people in their neighbourhoods who could be targeted by the police.
The use of the phrase “to work” – “gukora” in Kirundi – is disturbing as it was used to incite attacks during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
On Sunday (8 November), Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, also implored Burundi not to repeat the ethnic violence that his country endured 21 years ago.