FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

African Union Refuses to Invade Burundi

 

If Western press alone could overthrow a government, Burundi’s would be long gone. Anyone searching the Web for “Burundi” and “News” in the past year would have seen long lists of shrill press quoting shrill Western officials demanding that Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza step down, amidst street protest and armed insurgency, and make way for a “transitional government.” Nkurunziza’’s crime? Winning a third term in office, after Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that he was constitutionally entitled to run for election by universal suffrage a second time. Nkurunziza is hugely popular with Burundi’s rural agricultural majority.

U.S. UN Ambassador Samantha Power, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, the US State Department, the EU and Belgium, Burundi’s former colonial master, have fiercely advocated for the deployment of 5000 African Union (AU) troops in Burundi, whether Burundi agrees or not. They say the deployment is needed to protect civilians and prevent genocide.  In her book Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power argues that Americans are obliged to protect civilians and prevent genocide with – what else? – our unprecedented military force.  AU “peacekeeping” missions rely on the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) for weapons, training, intelligence, logistics, organization and command.

Nevertheless, on Sunday, 01.31.2016, the African Union’s Annual Summit of member nations dismissed the West’s proposal to deploy AU troops to Burundi without Burundi’s consent.  The Burundian government has said that the fighting is taking place only in some neighborhoods in the capital, Bujumbura, that their own security forces are capable, and that they will respond to any AU deployment without their consent as an invasion. They also said that Burundi’s government, army and police all include members of both the Hutu and Tutsi groups and that there is therefore no imminent danger of genocide.  In 1993, Burundi’s predominantly Tutsi army slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Burundian Hutus after assassinating the country’s first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, who was also its first democratically elected president.

Rwanda’s Role in the Conflict

Over two hundred thousand refugees have fled Burundi since the violence began in the capital in the last week of April. In November, Jeff Drumtra, a former UN official at Rwanda’s Mahama Refugee Camp, told Pacifica’s Flashpoints Radio that he had documented the Rwandan government’s conscription of Burundian refugees into a new rebel army to fight in Burundi. Drumtra said he had submitted his documentation to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, so neither the UN nor the major powers will be able to say, at a later date, that they were unaware of the recruitment.  Rwanda denied Drumtra’s allegations, but Refugees International confirmed them in its December report, Asylum Betrayed: Recruitment of Burundian Refugees in Rwanda.

The African Union Annual Summit

News reports quoted the presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Gambia, as they arrived at the annual African Union Summit on 01.29.2016, stating that they opposed the deployment of African Union troops to Burundi without Burundi’s consent. Senegalese diplomat Ibrahima Fall, the African Union’s Special Representative to the African Great Lakes Region, later told Radio France International that deploying AU troops without Burundi’s consent was “unimaginable.”

“It was never the intention of the African Union to deploy a mission to Burundi without the consent of Burundian authorities,” he said. “This is unimaginable. If the position of these two leaders [Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema and the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh] is based on this misunderstanding, it is hoped that gradually more communication takes place and that dialogue may settle on these issues. Probably one of the conclusions – because currently these conclusions are tentative – one of the final conclusions of the meeting this Friday will be sending a high-level delegation to Burundi to speak with senior Burundian authorities and initiate a conversation on this issue.”

Opposition to the deployment was not even brought to a voice or roll call vote.  AU member nations no doubt realized that if they authorized the deployment without Burundi’s consent, unwelcome AU troops might be sent across their borders as well.  Article 4(h) of the African Union Constitutive Act provides that the AU has the right to intervene in a member state in “grave circumstances, namely, war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity,” but, had it been approved, the deployment to Burundi would have been its first use.

Charles Kambanda, Rwandan American lawyer and former Law professor[ at the National University of Rwanda, said, “The AU heads of states appear to have properly analyzed the situation in Burundi. It’s clear that the AU Peace and Security Council, pressed by the EU and US, who are desperate for regime change in Burundi, did not do serious research – legal and political – for their naive proposal to force AU troops on Burundi.  Once again, President Kagame and his partners-in-crime, who sought to use AU troops to grab control of Burundi, have been defeated. The truth, not propaganda, will prevail.”

More articles by:

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail