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Archive for Burundi

Newsline: EU Mission in Burundi Reduces Staff but Stays Open

The European Union mission in Burundi is temporarily making a small reduction in staff and pulling out foreign family members due to the rising risk of violence, the EU envoy said on Friday. The UN Security Council on Thursday asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report within 15 days on options for boosting the United Nations presence in Burundi because of concerns that violence could spiral into an ethnic conflict. “The delegation will continue functioning normally,” EU Ambassador Patrick Spirlet told Reuters, citing the “rising risk of violence” for reducing some staff and sending family members away. He did not say how long the mission was expected to operate with reduced staff. The US Embassy sent non-essential staff and staff family members away in May, but on November 3 said they were returning. The United States still warns its citizens against non-essential travel to Burundi. Burundi, which emerged from an ethnically charged civil war in 2005, has been mired in a political crisis that has sparked a failed coup, assassinations and other violence since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term. Burundi’s 12-year civil war that left 300,000 dead pitted rebel groups of the Hutu majority against the army which was at the time led by minority Tutsis.


Newsline: 600 university students refuse to leave US Embassy in Burundi amid fear of reprisals

Hundreds of Burundian students are camping outside the US Embassy in the nation’s capital, Bujumbura, for fear of reprisals. This follows the resumption of protests in a number of districts, where police officers have opened fire to disperse demonstrators. Around 600 students are seeking shelter beneath the walls of the American Embassy in Bujumbura because, they claim, the US authorities ensure their security, after their university was closed amid anti-government protests. The government closed the university at the end of April, citing “insecurity”. US Ambassador Dawn Liberi and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski welcomed the students when they first started flocking to the embassy’s gates after the 26 April when Burundi’s ruling party National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza to stand for re-election. “The government’s decision to close down the university has caused unnecessary and unwarranted suffering to those who sought only to express themselves politically. Freedom of expression and assembly are core values to all democracies, including Burundi,” the embassy said in a statement. The ambassador added that anyone seeking safety at the embassy would not be asked to leave “so long as they remain peaceful and calm”. More than six weeks later the students are still there, and their ranks are swelling.


Newsline: Chinese embassy in Burundi raises safety alert

The Chinese embassy in Burundi has initiated a contingency plan to ensure the safety of hundreds of Chinese nationals. China’s ambassador to Burundi Zhou Ruisheng says they have established an information release system, and warned people to stay on alert. “The embassy has close contact with local government, military and police departments. We have asked local government to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals. Since the coup occurred on the 13th April, the embassy has initiated a contingency plan, issuing a safety alert via the embassy website as well as sending group messages, to warn Chinese nationals to stay on alert, and suggest they stay in doors,” Zhou said. The Chinese embassy in Burundi has also set up an emergency team to receive phone calls around the clock. It maintains close contact with Chinese nationals in the country, including those at Chinese companies, and the Confucius Institute. Embassy records show that there are over 450 Chinese people working and living in the country, and so far there is no reports saying any Chinese nationals have been hurt. However, the embassy has warned there are still potential risks following the unrest in the country, and has reminded people to take precautional measures taken to ensure safety.


Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Burundi says non-emergency personnel are to leave

The U.S. Embassy in Burundi says non-emergency personnel and the dependents of its staff are to leave the country, a spokeswoman said, following a failed bid by generals in the central African country to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza. The embassy will be closed on Friday, and the U.S. State Department has not yet decided if it will reopen next week, the spokeswoman said.


Newsline: Burundi police fire in air near US embassy over anti-president protest

Police fired shots in the air and tear gas when a group protesting against Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza running for a third term in office approached the U.S. embassy in the capital, the U.S. embassy said. “The riot police deployed several canisters of tear gas and fired several warning rounds into the air,” Becca Archer Kepper, the embassy’s public affairs officer, said in a statement. She said the embassy had not requested assistance and said the protest was dispersed in about 10 minutes.


Newsline: Top US diplomat on way to try to halt unrest in Burundi

A top U.S. diplomat was heading to Burundi on Wednesday, seeking to halt escalating unrest triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office, a move protesters say is unconstitutional. Since Sunday, police in the landlocked nation at the heart of Africa have clashed with protesters who say Nkurunziza’s plan to run again in the June 26 election threatens the Arusha peace deal that ended an ethnically fueled civil war in 2005. “On my way to Burundi. Disappointed President Nkurunziza violating Arusha Accord,” Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, wrote on his Twitter feed, adding it was not too late for the leadership and people to keep a “peaceful democratic path”. On Tuesday, the government told ambassadors at a meeting in Burundi, including the U.S. envoy, to stay neutral and said some were showing “a lot of sympathy” with protest organizers. The United States, other Western nations and African countries have pushed Nkurunziza to step aside. Washington said it would take steps against those behind any violence.


Newsline: South Africa expels Burundi diplomat

Burundi’s foreign minister said one of his country’s diplomats had been expelled from South Africa, though the reason was not immediately clear. The move comes after SA and Rwanda issued tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions on Friday amid a row over the attempted assassination of an exiled Rwandan general in Johannesburg. “South Africa has expelled Jean-Claude Sindayigaya, the first secretary of the embassy of Burundi,” Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure said. “We don’t yet know the motive behind this decision.” A South African official confirmed the expulsion of the Burundian diplomat but declined to give details. Sindayigaya left South Africa on Friday, Kavakure said.