Burundi’s government has rejected the African Union’s decision to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to curb ongoing violence in the troubled country, saying it will prevent foreign troops from entering its borders.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council agreed on Friday night to deploy an African Prevention and Protection Mission (MAPROBU) for an initial period of six months – primarily to protect civilians after months of political violence following the disputed re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza in July.
The MAPROBU force is mandated to “prevent any deterioration of the security situation” as well as to protect civilians and “contribute to the creation of the necessary conditions for the successful holding of the inter-Burundian dialogue”.
Nkurunziza’s spokesman Gervais Abayeho told Al Jazeera on Saturday, however, that Burundi does not need a peacekeeping force.
“We will not allow foreign troops in Burundi. We don’t need them,” Abayeho said.
“We have a legal and democratically elected government that should be consulted before making such decisions.
“We are a troop-contributing country to several African Union peacekeeping missions in Africa and now they want to bring peacekeepers to our country? Why don’t they just return our troops if they think we need help here?”
The African Union gave the Burundi government 96 hours to cooperate fully and accept the deployment of peacekeepers, warning that it reserved the right to enforce its decision to send in forces – as per its charter.
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from the capital Bujumbura, said the fallout of the political crisis is seriously damaging the economy of one of the poorest countries in the world.– Al Jazeera