The Burundian crisis as described by the United Nations and a report delivered to the United Security Council on the 23rd February 2017. This is the most recent compiled report on the situation of safety, human rights and peaceful work in the East African republic. Where the President Pierre Nkurunziza, decided to run for a third term, even as the constitution after the Arusha Peace Agreement, was set to be possible to have two terms.
So we are in March 2017, as the crisis has been going on since 2015. The Burundian government have continued to assassinated, detained and intimidated their population, as much they have also created a political climate where the Nkurunziza regime is hostile to foreign interference, as well as the toil of the crisis, also creates a vacuum in economic and fiscal funds for the state.
All of this is reports made to the United Nations and found by the UN Human Rights Observation Group that been stationed in Bujumbura and had to request and notify the government of their arrival. The Government are keeping their hands more tight and controlling as they want to supervise even the experts from the UN. Therefore the report has been criticised by Burundian government as expected. Because who would like to have these sorts of allegations and reports about their government. When you put the Burundian government acts together you can see a systematic oppression of the citizens of the republic. That is not a look any government want to be put in the public space, but this sort of aggressive police state and use of political youth wing to oppress the people. Just take a look!
“Nearly two years have passed since the beginning of the political crisis in Burundi, which was sparked by the decision of the ruling party, Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie — Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDDFDD), to support President Pierre Nkurunziza ’s candidacy for a third term. Since then, the political impasse has only deepened. Political space has been narrowed further through repression. In lieu of meaningful dialogue, the exchange of political views, primarily in the form of accusations and counter -accusations, is taking place across social media and in public communiqués. I n a new development, President Nkurunziza suggested in a statement at the end of 2016 that he might seek a fourth term in office “if the Burundian people decide to change the Constitution according to their wishes” (UNSC, P: 1, 2017).
Violations of the State:
“While the Government insists that the situation in the country has normalized, political opposition and civil society leaders continue to appeal for urgent international action to avert the risk of further deterioration, widespread violence and mass atrocities. Despite a decline in overt violence and fewer incidences of armed confrontation, reports of human rights violations and abuses continue, including killings, enforced disappearances, gender -based violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill -treatment, along with the discovery of unidentified bodies. The allegations of more than 200 cases of enforce d disappearance since October 2016 are of particular concern. From April 2015 to 31 December 2016, OHCHR documented 593 violations of the right to life, and hundreds of people continue to be arrested every month” (…) “Many Burundians live in fear as a result of widespread repression and increasing intimidation by the Imbonerakure, the ruling party’s youth wing. There are also unconfirmed reports of attacks and human rights abuses committed against Government supporters and security forces” (UNSC, P: 2, 2017).
Establish a new Constitution in violation of the Arusha Peace Agreement:
“On 16 November 2016, the Council of Ministers approved the establishment of a constitutional review commission mandated to study amendments to the Constitution. The commission is reportedly tasked with analysing articles of the Constitution to be amended for Government consideration and, with the latter’s agreement, proposing an amended draft Constitution. It further stated that the Council’s decision had been informed by: (a) recommendations on constitutional amendments contained in reports of the National Independent Electoral Commission, the National Independent Human Rights Commission and CNDI; (b) the resolution adopted at the 11 October meeting of political parties and leaders; and (c) the need to harmonize certain articles with EAC law. Opposition political parties and civil society criticized the Council’s decision, warning that any deliberate violation of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement would only worsen the current political crisis” (UNSC, P: 3, 2017).
“The security situation remains fragile. While incidents of overt violence and clashes between armed groups and Government security and defence forces had ebbed for some time, daily allegations of arbitrary arrest, ill -treatment, torture and enforced disappearance, along with the discovery of bodies, continue to be reported” (…) “The Imbonerakure reportedly also routinely participate in joint operations with the police and intelligence services and are reported to have been implicated in numerous cases of arbitrary arres t and disappearance, ill-treatment, killings and some cases of sexual violence” (UNSC, P: 5, 2017).
Burundian and Rwandan Relations:
“Relations between Burundi and Rwanda remain tense. Throughout the reporting period, isolated border incidents, as well as trade and movement restrictions, were witnessed. On 29 July, the Council of Ministers decided to stop the export of all food products to neighbouring countries, repo rtedly in response to insufficient domestic production. On 23 August, the East African Legislative Assembly decided to investigate issues affecting trade and free movement of citizens between Burundi and Rwanda. Burundian security forces frequently arrested individuals travelling to and from Rwanda, as well as the United Republic of Tanzania” (UNSC, P: 6, 2017).
“Since the beginning of the crisis, political figures have used inflammatory and hate-filled language in speeches, on social media, in communiqués and in the press, calling on the population to “protect” the country against so-called traitors and plotters allegedly trying to destabilize Burundi. Rhetoric has included incitement to violence, as well as attacks on the opposition and against civil society, while neighbouring countries have been accused of involvement in attempted assassinations” (UNSC, P: 9, 2017).
Effects of the Crisis:
“There has been a four-fold increase in the number of people who are food insecure — from 730,000 to 3 million — owing to the rising prices of basic food items, the seasonal rain deficit during the 2016 agricultural season, chronic poverty and poor harvests. According to the World Health Organization, some 8.2 million Burundians (73 per cent of the total population) were affected by malaria in 2016; 3,826 died. The number of internally displaced persons is estimated at 170,000, while the number of spontaneous returnees identified so far in some targeted provinces is approximately 37,000. The monthly rate of arrival of refugees in Neighbouring countries from August to October 2016 doubled from previous months, and the increasing trend was confirmed in the first weeks of 2017. As of early February 2017, the number of Burundians who had fled the country since April 2015 stood at 387,000” (UNSC, P: 10, 2017).
Human Rights Observers:
“As of February 2017, only 45 African Union human rights observers, 32 of whom are funded through catalytic funding provided by the Peacebuilding Fund, have been deployed to Burundi. Twenty-three African Union military experts have been deployed; however, owing to a scheduled rotation, there were only 10 African Union military experts in the country at the time of reporting. Despite months of negotiations, the Government has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding guiding the African Union deployment in Burundi” (UNSC, P: 12, 2017). “The Office of the Special Adviser and OHCHR are not alone in experiencing Government restrictions. Some members of the United Nations country team have been affected by the Government’s decision to require 10 days’ notification ahead of any in-country travel. There have been delays in the processing of visas, and some local staff have faced intimidation, including instances of arbitrary arrest” (UNSC, P: 13, 2017).
If you read this you couldn’t be shocked as the reports of this actions has been in media, but when you collect them, you can see the evidence of the systematic oppression of the people. This is the reason for the refugees and the hard-hitting report that we’re delivered this February. People should know what is happening in Burundi and not let it pass-by all the other scandals and the atrocities happening in the world today. Peace.
United Nations Security Council – ‘Report of the Secretary-General on Burundi’ (23.02.2017)
“The arms trade – an intricate web of networks between the formal and shadow worlds, between government, commerce and criminality – often makes us poorer, not richer, less not more safe, and governed not in our own interests but for the benefit of a small, self-serving elite, seemingly above the law, protected by the secrecy of national security and accountable to no one.”
― Andrew Feinstein
As of today there two United States Representatives from the Republican Party Ted Budd of North Carolina and Duncan Duane Hunter from California that for their own reasons to stop sales of U.S. arms to Kenya, this they have forwarded a joint resolution. This was first from Ted Budd, but Duncan Hunter became his co-sponsor of the bill. Of today it has been transmitted to the Committee at the House Foreign Affairs that will work on it, before initial voting.
“That the issuance of a letter of offer with respect to any of the following proposed sales to the Government of Kenya (described in the certification Transmittal No. 16–79, sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate pursuant to section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2776(b)(1))) on January 19, 2017, is hereby prohibited:
(1) Twelve Air Tractor AT–802L.
(2) Two AT–504 trainer aircraft.
(3) Weapons package, technical support and program management” (Budd & Hunter, 2017).
It is not long ago since this was sanctioned to the Kenya Defense Force and their missions, as this was a supplement to the on-going missions that the Kenya contingent in Somalia and might even be used as blue-helmets inside South Sudan. Still, the U.S. Representatives think these will be misguided and not well used arms for their ally in East Africa. This is the double-standard and double moral from the U.S. counterparts that easily has dropped and sold this sort of weapons to others, but has to all of sudden sanction Kenya for buying the same thing.
Just take a look at the timing of the deal between the U.S. and Kenyan earlier in 2017:
“The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible sale on 19 January and disclosed the potential sale on 23 January” (…) “The DSCA said Kenya had requested the sale of up to twelve Air Tractor AT-802L and two AT-504 trainer aircraft, weapons, technical support and programme management worth $418 million” (…) “This proposed sale contributes to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a strong regional partner who is a regional security leader undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab and troop contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),” the DSCA said” (…) “The proposed sale provides a needed capability in the ongoing efforts to counter al-Shabaab. The platform maximizes the Kenyan Defense Force’s Close Air Support (CAS) ability because it is a short-field aircraft capable of using precision munitions and cost effective logistics and maintenance.” (DefenceWeb, 2017).
So a purchase accepted in January is now in question in February, as the new Trump Administration will not care for the allies and friends as such before. The DSCA sanctioned the sale on the 23rd January 2017 and now on the 14th February 2017 the U.S. Representatives questions the sale. So the AMISOM mission and their allies who fights in it doesn’t matter as much, as that was the destination for the arms and technical weaponry in this transaction. That the sales of close worth over $400m that suddenly goes into the wind!
We will see if the Foreign Affairs Committee at the House of Representatives will work with this and see if this will go for voting in the House or Senate to sufficiently go forward with joint communique of Ted Budd and Duncan Hunter. That then will become legislation as the deal will not happen as the Committee will put forward a motion or legislation that the stops the arms agreement and trade between the DSCA and the Government of Kenya. Therefore the U.S. Arms trade to the Kenyan Defense Force.
This story is certainly not over. Peace.
DefenceWeb – ‘US approves possible Air Tractor, weapons sale to Kenya’ (24.01.2017) link: http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46563:us-approves-possible-air-tractor-weapons-sale-to-kenya&catid=35:Aerospace&Itemid=107
Representative Ted Budd (R-North Carolina) & Representative Duncan Duane Hunter (R-California) – ‘H.J.Res. 72: Relating to the disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the Government of Kenya of Air Tractor aircraft with weapons, and related support’ (14.02.2017)