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African Union must first bolster dialogue in Burundi

UREPORT
By Justin Nkaranga; Benard Kibet | December 24th 2015

The African Union has decided to send troops into Burundi. But that action was not decided until the international community spoke and raised the alarm on the violence that started way back in April.

Burundi fell into civil war this year when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term in July.

He is the source of the trouble. There’s no need to send in an East African Standby Force (EASF). The AU should ask Nkurunziza to quit and allow the people of Burundi to choose another leader. That’s what AU should do.

It is known to be biased in favour of sitting presidents. By sending troops in, they’ll crush those against President Nkurunziza.

The AU should first bolster dialogue and peace. Neighbouring countries should not send their troops in if they have vested interests.

{Justin Nkaranga, Mombasa}

Burundi’s military history is filled with ethnic conflict between the Tutsi and Hutus. The situation should be mitigated by African countries. Major causes of Burundi strife are high levels of poverty, failed political institutions and economic dependence on natural resources. African leaders should lead by bringing both parties together to avert more loss of lives.

African leaders should also endeavour to promote the rule of law. This involves equal access to justice by all citizens irrespective of their status, respect for court decisions by the government and influential, and conduct of free and fair periodic elections among others.

PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE

When and where leaders promote the rule of law, there are a guarantee of peaceful coexistence among people and a peaceful transition of power from one government to the other. Succession dispute-related conflicts that are very rampant in Africa may thus be easily eliminated.

African leaders should also promote, protect and guarantee the fundamental human rights of their citizens. In particular, the fundamental rights of freedom of speech, association and religion should be guaranteed.

People should be free to assess and criticise the performance of government without fear of persecution. Opposition must be tolerated while the fourth realm of government, the Press, must not be censored.

And finally, since independence in the late 20th century, African countries have been betting with the problem of civil wars and inter-state conflicts. This has taken its toll on Africa’s development in a number of ways especially in death of her illustrious sons and daughters and alienation of her peoples which in turn has been hindering the process of integration and cohesion in Africa.

Thuggery, looting and arson have become part and parcel of Africa’s political culture. This should not be allowed to continue if Africa is to witness growth and development and compete favourably with other continents of the world.

African leaders should chart a new course for peace in Africa by tackling the crisis in Burundi.

{Benard Kibet, via email}

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