African Union deliberates sending East African troops to Burundi

Friday December 18 2015

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (left) with African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui during the Great Lakes retreat at DusitD2 hotel on July 10, 2015. Mr Chergui said on December 17, 2015 that the violence in Burundi has to stop. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed (left) with African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui during the Great Lakes retreat at DusitD2 hotel on July 10, 2015. Mr Chergui said on December 17, 2015 that the violence in Burundi has to stop. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenyan soldiers could be sent to Burundi to stop the country from spiralling into anarchy.

The African Union (AU) has started talks on sending troops from the East Africa Standby force to the strife-torn nation, on the day the AU warned it would not allow another “genocide” on the continent.

The AU peace and security council sitting in Addis Ababa held its 565th meeting and the Burundi chaos topped the agenda.

More than 100 people were killed last week following renewed violence.

Algerian diplomat, Smail Chergui, who is the commissioner for peace and security, said they need to “urgently stop the violence.”

“The killings in Burundi must stop immediately,” he wrote on his Twitter page Thursday.

The East African Standby Force was created in 2003 to maintain peace and security.

Its members include Kenya, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

The force is composed of military, police and civilians, on standby in their countries of origin ready for rapid deployment.

The force is technically an organisation of military experts rather than a grouping of soldiers even though countries like Kenya have been training soldiers jointly with the rest for some time now.

A THIRD TERM
The force has so far helped to provide regional military advice, observer missions and fact finding missions in member countries like Somalia, where it has augmented the African Union Mission in Somalia forces in logistics, training and medical support.

But countries have generally been reluctant to pool a standby military force because this is also a region with constant violence.

The violence in Burundi dates back to April when President Pierre Nkurunziza was allowed by his party, the National Centre for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy to vie for a controversial third term.

This led to protests and even an attempted coup but President Nkurunziza stood firm to contest in a poll where six opponents pulled out citing intimidation.

On Thursday, the European Union announced Sh500 million to support the displaced.