11:02 pm
26 October 2016

Kagame says Burundi crisis may need military intervention to stop the killing, but rules out Rwanda role

RWANDA’S President Paul Kagame said the eight-month crisis in neighboring Burundi may need armed intervention to quell the violence, while ruling out sending Rwandan troops.

“The crisis in Burundi is political, not military, but it may require some level of military to quiet down the guns,” Kagame said Tuesday in televised comments after a national political conference in the capital, Kigali. “We are appealing to Burundians to sort out their problems.”

kagame nkurunziza

The African Union on Dec. 18 approved the deployment of as many as 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi, where violence spurred by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term has left more than 400 people dead since April.

Burundian officials, given four days to agree, have rejected the plan, saying it would be a violation of the East African nation’s sovereignty. Nkurunziza’s opponents say he violated a two-term limit set out in accords that ended a civil war in 2005.

Burundi’s government, opposition and officials from other East African countries are set to discuss a national-unity administration in Dec. 28 talks in Uganda.

Playing no part

Kagame rejected the “childish allegation” that Rwanda had stoked instability in Burundi and said his country’s troops would play no part in any intervention. Kagame also referred to Rwanda’s Dec. 18 referendum, in which 98.3% of the electorate voted to amend the constitution to allow him to compete for a third term in elections scheduled for 2017.

Public opposition to the proposal was limited, with the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda one of the few groups encouraging a “no” vote.

“Lines were drawn about the determination to keep moving the country forward for sustainable development reasons,” said the 58-year-old, who’s governed since 2000 after he led a rebel army that ended Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“Africa’s problems have never been term-limits,” Kagame said. “They might be part of the problem, but not the entire problem. A president can serve two terms and leave a total mess.”