“Let us say no to all the tongues that preach curses for our country,” said President Pierre Nkurunziza, in an intervention at a prayer celebration, in a bid to set aside fears of the risk of a genocide in the country, sparked by opposition activists.
Though never pronouncing the actual term, Nkurunziza urged the nation’s citizens to “not remain prisoners of the past”, insisting on “breaking the cycle of violence that marked the history of our nation”. The exiled opposition activist Marguerite Barankitse instead spoke explicitly of genocide and the government has requested her extradition. Barankitse in particular stressed that some terms used recently by the president of the senate and President Nkurunziza were identical to those used to mobilize those responsible for the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Despite reassurances from the President, international concern continues mounting: a vote could already be held today on the draft resolution presented by France to the UN Security Council. Based on reports in circulation, the text foresees sanctions for those responsible for the violence. Anonymous Security Council sources, cited by the French weekly Jeune Afrique, indicated also a possible deployment of UN peacekeepers of the MONUSCO mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to impede the crisis from expanding. A move of this sort would however need to be approved by the Burundian government or a UN Resolution authorizing the use of force.