Burundi:United States Warns Against Violence

Jeff Rathke
Director, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
May 15, 2015

The United States is alarmed by reports of retaliatory attacks in Burundi following the attempted unlawful seizure of power on May 13 and the growing risk of greater violence and atrocities. The United States urgently calls on President Nkurunziza to condemn and stop the use of violence by the police and the ruling party’s Imbonerakure youth militias against those who participated in protests against a third term. The United States strongly condemns all acts of violence and retribution against those who have participated in protests against a third term. Individuals who perpetrate or incite violence, or exact retribution against those who oppose a third term, should be held accountable.

The United States supports the rule of law and opposes attempts to seize power unlawfully. The United States also believes the Arusha Agreement that ended Burundi’s horrific civil war must remain the foundation for the country’s stability and post-war reconciliation. The decision by Burundian President Nkurunziza to disregard the Arusha Agreement to run for a third term also has created instability and violence.

The United States is taking steps to impose visa ineligibilities on those responsible for violence. We call on all other governments to do the same. The United States also stresses that, under U.S. law, we cannot provide military training or assistance to military units that commit gross violations of human rights. We support the recent decision by the African Union to delay the next deployment of Burundian troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and note that continued instability and violence in Burundi, and in particular the commission of human rights abuses by security forces, could jeopardize Burundi’s ability to continue to contribute to the AMISOM peacekeeping mission.

The United States fully supports the mediation efforts of UN Special Envoy Said Djinnit and the African Union envoys in Bujumbura, as well as the efforts of the East African Community, the African Union, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, aimed at bringing peace and stability to Burundi. We urge all stakeholders in Burundi to engage immediately and seriously in these mediation efforts.

The United States welcomes decisions by other donor partners to reduce or withdraw budget support and financial assistance to the Government of Burundi in response to the continuing instability and violence. We also appreciate the willingness of Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to welcome the more than 100,000 Burundian refugees who have fled Burundi, and call on the Burundian government to remove roadblocks and other impediments that are preventing civilian populations from crossing into neighboring nations seeking safety.

We stand with the people of Burundi at this critical moment. We urgently call on the Burundian government to demonstrate, by its actions in the coming days, its commitment to a peaceful future for all the people of Burundi.