Not on our watch: 'Silent' AU says will not allow genocide in Burundi as fears mount for a country on the brink

The 54-member bloc has been much criticised over its seeming inaction over the crisis in the east African country

THE African Union said violence in Burundi must end, warning it would not allow a genocide to take place, the 54-member bloc said on Thursday.

“Africa will not allow another genocide to take place on its soil,” the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in messages posted on its Twitter account as it discussed the crisis in Burundi, adding there was “an urgent need for action to stop the killings.”

The bloc is increasingly being criticised for its seeming inertia over the violence in the country of 10 million.

Burundi descended into bloodshed in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July.

Last week the worst violence in the country this year left at least 87 people dead, with the bloc increasingly accused of inertia. The bloodshed might have been avoided loodshed might well have been avoided if the mediator in Burundi’s crisis, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, had been more active.

Read: As body count mounts, mediator Museveni ‘takes his eyes off Burundi’ and country inches closer to the cliff

 But the last time he visited this country was in July, a few days before the presidential election. Museveni, himself running for re-election for a fifth term, has since appointed his defence minister, Crispus Kiyonga, to take his place as mediator.

AU security council chief Smail Chergui said there was “a very clear message coming out of the ongoing PSC meeting: the killings in Burundi must stop immediately.”

Ministers were briefed on the AU’s military capabilities of its regional East African Standby Force for its “possible” deployment to Burundi, without giving further details.

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that Burundi “is on the brink of a civil war that risks engulfing the entire region.”

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