Burundi’s Vice President, Gaston Sindimwo, has warned that no foreign soldier would step his foot on Burundian territory without the authorisation of the government.
He gave the warning while addressing pro-government supporters during a protest march country-wide in Burundi on Saturday against plans by the African Union (AU), to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to the country.
“We warn politicians who are behind insecurity in Burundi that we will not tolerate them.
“We will continue to fight against criminals,” he said.
The protest march, attended by hundreds of demonstrators, took place in major towns in 18 provinces.
The demonstrators held banners saying, “We are against the deployment of AU troops into Burundi” and “There is no war or genocide to justify the deployment of AU troops”.
He warned against the plan by AU to use the peacekeeping mission to avert further violence in the country, where protesters have been rebelling against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term in office.
Meanwhile, AU said the initial deployment, which would be for six months, was mandated to prevent any deterioration of the security situation and contribute to the protection of civilians under imminent threat.
The AU Security Council concluded that if Burundi does not accept the deployment within 96 hours, the peacekeepers could be sent in against the government’s wishes.
The AU said its Burundi mission was also intended to facilitate political moves to resolve the growing sectarian conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi populations.
“Anyone who opposed the mission would face sanctions. The union said it must now urgently seek financing for the mission.
“There are growing concerns that Burundi could descend into another ethnic war between Hutus and Tutsis’’, it said.
The UN also noted said earlier this month, that the country of 11 million was on the brink of another civil war, with 250,000 people already fled to neighbouring countries.
It said Nkurunziza triggered the conflict when he announced in April that he would run for a third term.
The UN said most recent civil war in the impoverished country which pitted the majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis, echoing the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in neighbouring Rwanda ended only in 2005, leaving 300,000 people dead. (dpa/NAN)