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The Burundi Government Must not Blackmail African Union with War Threats

AU Military Intervention in Burundi 

It has been often reported that the African Union (AU) has passed a resolution to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers in Burundi. That is a media language. Well from expert point of view such a deployment cannot be termed peacekeeping - it is simply a military intervention. I leave the discourse on that for some other day. Whether we call it military intervention or peacekeeping, the fact is that the AU has decided that it needs to intervene in Burundi to avert a catastrophe. I do not dispute the rationale but I disagree with the means. I have consistently argued that the most viable and perhaps only solution to the Burundi crisis is dialogue. I have my reasons; they remain as valid today as they were yesterday and shall be tomorrow. Anybody who bothers to analyse world conflicts can easily echo my claim that military interventions have never been viable solutions to conflicts anywhere. 

The best examples from around the world indicate that military interventions either tend to escalate or sustain conflicts. Now that we have had the military interventions and peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with various mandates over time; what gains in terms of peace have we made in DRC? Are we seeing any progress in Somalia? Well, I do not think we have. The reason is simple; we cannot have externally forged solutions to internal conflicts; the outsiders can be arbiters, mediators, negotiators, facilitators, observers, etc but not owners of peace processes. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for Sudan/South Sudan did not hold. I dare say the current peace agreement may not too. Why? Simple. External prescription. The Friends of IGAD mean the same as the "Plus" in the so called IGAD Plus. They seek peace for Sudan/South Sudan but they want that peace to look like how they know it. Somalia may never know peace since each actor wants to recreate Somalia in their model. The moment we grow the balls to leave Somalia recreate itself according to its own unique model that it is, we shall see Somalia rise from ashes, after all, it is said that strong societies emerge from ashes. Nothing stops Somalia from doing just that. I am back to Burundi

The Case of Burundi

I have not forgotten I am writing about Burundi. But the Burundi crisis must be analysed within that context. That no any extra-Burundi actor may help bring Burundi back on course. Burundi, just like many other African countries and indeed other world states trapped in conflict must be "left" to resolve their issues. I actually mean that. They must be "left" to resolve their own conflicts. That is as simple and straightforward as it can get. Burundi must be the owner of its destiny; the solution to its current crisis lies within its borders. Burundi must give birth to its own peace. None; I repeat none can give birth to peace in Burundi other than Burundi herself. She owes it upon herself; she must do it for her children. 

But what about the Responsibility to Protect?

Oh yes, I remember that I have not forgotten that; I cannot. The international community has the responsibility to protect (R2P). This is an obligation. After Rwanda in 1994, we learned our lessons as sons and daughters of the earth. Indeed we learned in a hard way. The post-cold war world of complex emergencies has again and again proved that states will do well by tackling peace and security issues collectively. The world cannot sit back and watch countries like Burundi go up in smokes. The world must intervene. It is not an option. Security regionalism is a serious term. Before you utter it, ponder it over. The UA is within its mandate to intervene in Burundi; it has to intervene; it must intervene. Memories of Rwanda are still fresh. The history of Burundi is tied to that of Rwanda. Who wants another genocide? Not me. I doubt Africa needs another genocide. This desire of not wanting another genocide on this soil called Africa moved the AU to resolve to send troops to Burundi. But the government of Burundi has vowed to fight the AU soldiers if they set foot in Burundi and there lies the quagmire. So how do we go about this? 

Burundi must not Blackmail Africa

The government of Burundi is only employing a survival tactic. President Pierre Nkurunziza and his supporters know that the legitimacy of the government they head is wounded. They have few cards remaining. The most important is violence. And so the state has been turned into a killing machine hunting down personalities with dissenting views and murdering them. Killing its own people has not worked for Burundi since the international community has reminded the Bujumbura administration that the world is watching. The repercussions are not vague to the President and his men and women. When the AU decides to deploy the military how does the government of Burundi react? In the only remaining way. Threaten with violence. They must use the same remaining strong card. The only card known to them. Violence. Threat of violence. Oh sovereignty. Oh Burundi is a sovereign state. Oh our sovereignty must be respected. Oh if you send the troops in we shall consider that an attack on our sovereignty; it shall be deemed by us as an act of war, as an aggression. And Burundi will "have no choice" but respond in defence of its sovereignty. That is the chorus. Burundi will sing that until the cows come home. But remember it is just but a card. In my view, that is the most important or perhaps only card that there is in the tool kit of Mr. Nkurunziza and his government. 

African Union must Intervene 

By saying that I do not in any way purport to support a military intervention in Burundi. My reason is simple. It won't work. That does not mean AU cannot have meaningful intervention. I think it has a huge role to play. Again it does not mean I prescribe an AU solution to the crisis in Burundi. I do not. I never contradict myself. I mean, let AU go and look not only at what it can do but also on the best thing that it can do in this regard. When I look at the tool kit; I only see one viable solution; DIALOGUE. The AU must intervene in Burundi, it must use all means within its disposal to pull the warring factions in Burundi to the negotiation table and facilitate a process through which there will be sustainable dialogue for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi. The AU must be the midwife that will help Burundi safely deliver peace for her descendants. Sending soldiers in may end up adding Burundi to the list of failed or/and failing states in Africa. We need none; we have enough of them already. I repeat that Burundi must not use the threat of war to blackmail Africa. Africa must not be cowed. The AU must intervene in Burundi; the Arusha talks must be made to work if the situation in Burundi is to be salvaged.  

The Burundi Government Must not Blackmail African Union with War Threats The Burundi Government Must not Blackmail African Union with War Threats Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on January 26, 2016 Rating: 5

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