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Election Over, Challenges Remain in Burundi


Patrice Gahungu (FILE)

Political violence shows no easing in Burundi, with the murder of an opposition party spokesman in the capital, Bujumbura.

Political violence shows no easing in Burundi, with the murder of an opposition party spokesman in the capital, Bujumbura. Patrice Gahngu of the UPD Zigamibanga Party was shot and killed outside his home September 7, the second top official of the group slain in the turmoil surrounding President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run for a third term. Other prominent Burundians have been gunned down in recent months as well, with no suspects arrested.

Fifteen years ago, the spirit of the Arusha Agreement transformed Burundi by enshrining the conviction that the government must represent and serve all citizens. Today, Burundi faces a renewed challenge: to end violence and achieve lasting stability by coming together in the spirit of Arusha.

This isn’t the work of one group, but of every person and party. We call on President Nkurunziza and his government, on opposition leaders, and on all the people of Burundi to join now in an open, comprehensive, and representative national dialogue. Nor is it a challenge for Burundi alone.

The United States reiterates its support for regional leadership, including Uganda and the East African Community, to convene and mediate a political dialogue, and urges them to do so soonest. High-level engagement by the African Union and the United Nations, and positive action by all states in the region, is critical to bring Burundi back from the brink. We also remain committed to holding accountable human rights violators and abusers and all those who seek to undermine stability in Burundi.

To prevent further violence, armed Imbonerakure and all militias must be disarmed immediately, with AU oversight.

President Nkurunziza is well aware of his nation’s crisis and has called for "security committees" to work together with Burundi's security agencies. That is very worrisome, as it includes armed youth militia, including the armed contingent of the Imbonerakure, the ruling party’s youth wing. Militia violence and intimidation have profoundly increased tensions and worsened a crisis that has driven almost 200,000 Burundians to take refuge abroad.

To prevent further violence, armed Imbonerakure and all militias must be disarmed immediately, with AU oversight. We call on all Burundians to oppose any further acts of unlawful violence and to join together now, in the spirit of Arusha, to reach consensus and a peaceful path forward for Burundi.

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