0418 GMT June 21, 2021
On Monday, lawmakers from the parliament’s two houses began debating the new plan that would see 5,000 soldiers deployed to Burundi by the 54-member AU, which was proposed last week following a rise in violence in the country.
“The purpose of this extraordinary meeting is to give voice to the people through its representatives,” Burundi’s ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) Party said.
Most lawmakers are expected to oppose the plan.
On December 19, the AU’s Peace and Security Council authorized the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) for at least six months, without a request by the African country itself.
Following the announcement, Philippe Nzobonariba, the Burundian government spokesman, said the move would amount to an attack against the country.
The mission is said to be aimed at providing civilians with protection and assistance to set up conditions for holding inter-Burundian dialog. The decision came days after nearly 90 people were killed in the country’s worst wave of violence in recent months on December 11.
The UN has warned on several occasions that Burundi is on the brink of a civil war. The country plunged into turmoil in late April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to run for a third consecutive five-year term, a move which was denounced as contrary to the country’s constitution and a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war. He was reelected in July elections anyway.
Latest UN figures show that at least 400 people have been killed, while 220,000 others have fled Burundi since April 26 due to the political crisis plaguing the African state.