East African leaders will meet soon at another special summit to discuss the crisis in Burundi, where police and protesters continue to clash on the streets of the capital.
The East African Community, a regional bloc, announced that a summit would be held in Dar es Salaam on May 31, with ministers holding talks the day before. Burundians took to the streets April 26 to protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid for a third term in office. The demonstrations have turned lethal, with more than 20 people killed, hundreds injured and hundreds detained over almost four weeks of demonstrations.
Fearing the violence, thousands have fled the country to neighboring nations, prompting regional leaders to meet May 13 hoping to find a way to end the conflict. Elements in the military attempted to take over the government while Nkurunziza was attending the earlier summit. The rebellion failed, but the protests have continued.
Occasional gunfire can be heard in the capital Bujumbura where many roads are blocked and businesses closed. On May 23, unidentified gunmen killed Zedi Feruzi, the leader of the opposition Union Peace and Development PD Party, and his bodyguard.
The United States strongly condemns Feruzi’s murder, as well as the May 22 grenade attack in a market that killed several people and wounded many more. We call on all parties to immediately renounce the use of violence and urge the Burundian government to conduct timely and credible investigations of the recent attacks to bring to justice those responsible.
The United States supports the consultative political dialogue facilitated by the UN Special Envoy, Said Djinnit, and envoys from the African Union, the East African Community, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. We strongly urge all stakeholders to continue to take part in this dialogue to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
We call on the Burundian government to provide the political space needed for a peaceful and credible electoral process, including through respect for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and expression. In this regard, the government should permit the immediate resumption of broadcasts by independent radio stations, stop referring to peaceful protesters as “insurgents” and withdraw the proclamation barring future demonstrations.
The United States continues to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and is prepared to take additional measures against those who commit, incite or promote violence or other human rights abuses and violations.