Tanzania breaks ranks, opposes AU plan for troops in Burundi and pushes ‘political solution’ – report

Tanzania has historically played big brother to Burundi, and expects its view of events on Burundi to be taken seriously

TANZANIA opposes an African Union plan to deploy as many as 5,000 peacekeepers to stem violence in neighbouring Burundi and backs a political solution to the East African nation’s eight-month crisis, the Citizen newspaper reported.

Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Mahiga will try to convince the AU to reconsider its proposal and give a chance to regionally backed negotiations, due to restart in Uganda on Dec. 28, the Dar es Salaam-based newspaper cited him as saying. Mahiga will travel to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who’s leading the talks, as well as Burundian leader Pierre Nkurunziza this week, the Citizen said.

The African Union on Dec. 18 approved troops for Burundi, where violence spurred by Nkurunziza’s bid for a third presidential term has left more than 400 people dead since April. The AU also suggested it would send in a force even if the Burundi government is opposed it, saying another genocide would not happen on its watch.

Burundian officials, given four days to agree, have rejected the plan, saying it would violate the country’s sovereignty.

On Tuesday Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said the eight-month crisis in Burundi may need armed intervention to quell the violence, while ruling out sending Rwandan troops. 

“The crisis in Burundi is political, not military, but it may require some level of military to quiet down the guns,” Kagame said Tuesday in televised comments after a national political conference in the capital, Kigali. “We are appealing to Burundians to sort out their problems.” 

However, Kagame said Rwanda would not be directly in any such effort.

READ: Kagame says Burundi crisis may need military intervention to stop the killing, but rules out Rwanda role

Tanzania has historically played big brother to Burundi, and expects its view of events on Burundi to be taken seriously. It also tries as much as it can not to be at odds with Bujumbura.

It is currently hosting more than 120,000 refugees from Burundi, according to Mahiga.

On a personal note, Mahiga must be approaching the Burundi crisis with a mild sense of de javu.

Previously, he was the United Nations Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, and part of the effort to stitch back the broken Horn of Africa nation.

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