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Burundi Vows Cooperation but Frowns on AU Sanctions Threat

FILE - Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe.
FILE - Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe.

Burundi’s foreign minister said any mediation effort to resolve the country’s political crisis should not involve any threat of sanctions because sanctions do not resolve issues, but rather exacerbate them.

On the other hand, Alain Nyamitwe said, Burundi is ready to cooperate with the African Union’s investigation of any alleged violations of human rights and other abuses against civilian populations in Burundi.

This came after the African Union peace and security council meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia decided over the weekend to impose targeted sanctions against Burundians who contribute to the perpetuation of violence as well as impede the search for a solution to the crisis facing the country.

Efforts to restore peace and stability

Nyamitwe said President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government has been trying to restore peace and stability to Burundi.

“We are aware of that communique and we have taken it very seriously because we believe some of the people who have vowed to fight against the government have been using violent means to achieve political goals, including targeted killings and those have to be absolutely targeted,” he said.

Nyamitwe said if there is any member of the Burundian government who might have also been involved in violence, then that person should also face target sanctions.

Burundi government: Sanctions don't resolve conflicts

Still, he said sanctions do not resolve conflicts.

“If you look around in Africa, you will not find one single crisis which has been resolved through sanctions. Even South Sudan, I remember the Peace and Security has been saying let us not rush into sanctions because this is a very fragile situation which might be exacerbated in case we go the route of sanctions,” Nyamitwe said.

He said what has been applicable to other countries which have seen even worst crises than Burundi should also be applied to Burundi.

The African Union Peace and Security Council asked the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to carry out the investigation and submit a report within 45 days from last Saturday.

Nyamitwe said the Burundian government is ready to cooperate with the investigation because it does not tolerate impunity.

Recent election the root of the unrest

There has been ongoing violence in Burundi ever since President Nkurunziza won election earlier this year for a controversial third term, something the opposition said was in violation of the constitution.

The African Union has also called for an inclusive dialogue between the Burundian government and opposition groups to be held in any capital around Africa.

Nyamitwe said the Burundian government is open to dialogue with the opposition as evident by its establishment of the National Commission for Inter-Burundian dialogue which provides a platform for every Burundian to speak on the country’s current crisis.

“As I speak, I have seen President [Yoweri] Museveni and President Kenyatta of Kenya who have also called for that dialogue to happen,” he said.