Burundi threatens to fight AU peacekeepers

By Agencies

Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, has threatened to fight any African Union (AU) peacekeepers imposed on his country in his most confrontational comments yet amid a mounting political crisis.

The AU said this month it was ready to send 5,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians caught up in months of violence, invoking for the first time powers to intervene in a member state against its will.

“Everyone has to respect Burundi borders,” Nkurunziza said on Wednesday in comments broadcast on state radio.

“In case they violate those principles, they will have attacked the country and every Burundian will stand up and fight against them.”

“The country will have been attacked and it will respond,” he said, in his first public response to the AU plan.

Other government officials have already said any peacekeepers arriving without Burundi’s permission would violate its sovereignty.

More than 220,000 people have fled since the crisis erupted in April, triggered by Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term.

At least 400 people have been killed and 220,000 displaced since April.

Opposition groups took to the streets saying he was violating constitutional term limits but he pointed to a court order allowing his campaign.

The violence began after Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office. He survived a coup attempt in May, and secured a landslide victory in disputed elections in July.

There have been fears that the violence could spiral into civil war and possible ethnic conflict.

The government has said there is no threat of genocide.

A peace meeting held in neighbouring Uganda on Tuesday to find a solution to the crisis ended without any agreement.


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