Kenyan forces in the East African Standby Force could be sent to quell clashes in Burundi if the UN Security Council endorses African Union’s decision to send 5,000 troops to the strife-torn central African nation.
On Friday, the African Union approved draft plans to send troops to the conflict-ridden Burundi even without permission from Bujumbura in what could be a historic move to stop the country’s impending implosion.
The move by the AU Peace and Security Council reached on Friday despite initial opposition from the Burundi delegation invoked a rarely-used clause in AU Constitutive Act.
Article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act provides for sending of troops to a member country under circumstances of war crime, genocide or crimes against humanity without that country’s permission.
This means that should the UN Security Council to the AU plan, the East African Standby Force comprising Kenyan soldiers will be send to Burundi to protect civilians.
The AU Peace and Security Council has powers to authorise an intervention force for humanitarian, peace and security purposes.
However, it would be the first time the EASF would be sending troops to a member country.
It is a response to reports of revenge killings in the capital Bujumbura where more than 400 people have been killed since April.
On Friday, an AU diplomat told the Nation the decision in Addis Ababa was reached to avert any further killings and a humanitarian crisis in the country.
“Members agreed, having been briefed on the contingency plans by the standby force, that it would be a safeguard measure to have peacekeeping troops sent there.
However, this will depend on whether violence continues in Burundi,” the official who we cannot name told the Nation on phone from AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
AU HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTThe move may have been influenced by a report by AU’s human rights investigators who early this week reported “arbitrary killings, torture and the arbitrary... closure of some civil society organisations and the media,” in Burundi.
On Thursday, AU warned it will not allow another “genocide” in Africa, following that in Rwanda in 1994 where more than 800, 0000 people were killed.
The UN also warned that the country could be on the “cusp of civil war” and asked the international community to intervene.
The meeting on Burundi began on Thursday but the AU Council’s 15 members who include Burundi could not agree on the final communique until Friday.
Burundi though did not sit in discussions touching on violence in Bujumbura.
Algerian diplomat, Tsmail Chergui who is the Commissioner for the AU Peace and Security said the meeting generally agreed on the “urgent need to stop the violence.”
“A very Clear message coming out of the ongoing PSC meeting: the killings in Burundi must stop immediately,” he wrote on his Twitter page on Thursday.