News / Africa

    Burundi President Slammed Over AU Threats

    Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a parliamentary ceremony, Bujumbura, Aug. 20, 2015.
    Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a parliamentary ceremony, Bujumbura, Aug. 20, 2015.
    Anita Powell

    Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza says he will consider any deployment of African Union peacekeepers in his troubled nation an attack against which he will retaliate militarily. 

    “Everyone has to respect Burundi's borders. In case they violate those principles, they will have attacked the country and every Burundian will stand up and fight against them," Nkurunziza announced in a national address on Wednesday that sent shockwaves through the international community and left many wondering how the continental union of nations will respond.

    "The country will have been attacked and it will respond," he said.

    Nkurunziza faces increasing opposition from the AU and the international community over his unpopular quest to extend his tenure as president of the tiny central African nation. He weathered a May coup attempt and won a disputed election in July, though violence has continued.

    According to South Africa-based security analyst Stephanie Wolters, Nkurunziza’s brio comes as no surprise, as Burundi's top elected official has been building up to the statement with increasingly strong rhetoric since first proposing constitutional changes allowing him to seek a third presidential term.

    Wolters, who heads the Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis program at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, says Nkurunziza's direct challenge to the AU, which only recently began flexing its muscles in terms of continental peace and security issues, bodes poorly for continuing peace talks in Uganda.

    “I think the fact that Nkurunziza has said he will attack African Union troops, it’s not a blow to the AU," she told VOA. "It makes his government look entirely irresponsible; it makes the government look like a government that doesn’t want to resolve a crisis. The African Union now, of course, is going to have to figure out how tough it wants to be in response to that.”

    While the AU has legal backing to send in troops anyway, that move might only escalate the conflict, thereby defeating the primary purpose of a peacekeeping force. Rather than overruling the president, Wolters suggests AU officials should instead put peacekeeping plans on pause and strike a deal to round out its complement of neutral military and civilian observers in Burundi.

    She also says Nkurunziza’s threat could backfire: In recent years, Burundi has been an active contributor to AU peacekeeping missions, which means Burundian soldiers may find themselves face to face with their former battle buddies.

    “Nkurunziza may well say, ‘we’re going to combat AU forces,’ but there’s really no guarantee that the army is going to do that," she said. "In fact, this is a key point here. The army has been less than willing to participate in Nkurunziza’s crackdowns on civilians, and so his threat may very well be very hollow. This may very well be the point at which the army says, ‘that’s it, we’ve had enough of this guy, we’re not going to go combating African Union troops, who, sometimes, we fight alongside.’”

    Nkurunziza’s comments were issued as the specter of regional conflict, messy regional politics and ethnic violence loom: Burundi and neighboring Rwanda have long been politically at odds, with Burundi frequently accusing Rwanda of meddling in its affairs. Most recently, Bujumbura alleged that Kigali recruited Burundian refugees to overthrow Nkurunziza’s government.

    Complicating things further, the presidents of the two nations are from the two rival ethnic groups that clashed in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Both tiny nations are dwarfed by the giant, messy Democratic Republic of Congo, whose social and political troubles often spill over borders, wreaking havoc throughout the region.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Moses608 from: Kenya
    January 01, 2016 4:20 AM
    The hatred is so deep to a point where when AU goes in must be careful not to be viewed by any ethnic group as being in the side of oppressors.A neighbouring country must not be allowed to have a president who is sacred than others hence being allowed to stand for several terms and win absurdly with 98%which means people fear to express themselves.(Even Sadam and Castro won by that margin)Anybody who negotiates a deal has to be impartial-certainly not Museveni.Ghana can help further a field Jamaica can come in.And the Arusha deal has to be respected by all parties.Kenyan President should go to Burundi in person to prepare for this way.He is considered impartial.
    In Response

    by: Angelo
    January 01, 2016 6:11 AM
    Dear readers and writers:
    The AU must avoid appearing partial when it comes to sanctionning African leaders who do not respect presidential term limits prescribed by national constitutions. The case of Burundi is so particular that no constitution has been violated and that the violence is and been funded and organized some western and African countries with known selfish interests. The AU then suffers from appearing as a puppet of such interested countries, which explains Burundi president's opposition to any AU forces being sent in his country.

    Afterall, who does not know the failures or complicities in other countries such as Rwanda (1994) and DRC (currently). Burundi has a reason to fear the imposed AU forces; the AU should work with Burundi to find lasting solutions to the current sporadic insurgencies, which should in no way or form be assimilated to any genocide.
    God bless Burundi!

    by: Ibrahim Korombo Conteh
    December 31, 2015 5:56 PM
    The AU must, by all cost, impose the duty of having a number of African peacekeepers. Burundi has nothing to do with Africa. The government of Burundi is less responsible to threaten the whole of Africa in the battle field. In this issue, Africa must stand as a continent to defeat this mess.

    by: Moses608 from: Kenya
    December 31, 2015 8:09 AM
    Museveni is not considered by some to be impartial.Why not engage President Uhuru Kenyatta and possibly Ghanian President in this complex issue which involves lose of life?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora