Leaders meet to avert Burundi crisis

Amid fears that violence in Burundi could erupt into genocide, African heads of state are today meeting in Tanzania to discuss the country's deteriorating security situation. Pressure for foreign intervention has been mounting as the fighting intensifies between rebels of the Hutu majority and the military which is dominated by the Tutsi minority.

Among those due to attend the talks in Arusha are the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi. Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko, whose involvement is seen as crucial to a negotiated solution, will be represented by his deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Large numbers of Hutus from Rwanda and Burundi have sought refuge in Zaire.

The meeting will be attended by the head of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Salim Ahmed Salim, and former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, who is mediating in ongoing Burundi peace talks.

The leaders will be reviewing diplomatic efforts to stem the violence in Burundi which has claimed some 150,000 lives since 1993. The United States, in particular, has been intensifying efforts to halt what the State Department has called "acts of genocide against ethnic groups" in Burundi.

The former US ambassador to Burundi, Robert Krueger, recently wrote in a diplomatic cable that the central African country faces "a greater chance for major conflagration than at any time in the last two years".

The United Nations Security Council has been considering contingency plans if such a conflagration were to ensue. The plans demand the provision of a multi-national intervention force and the establishment of "safe zones" for refugees in neighbouring countries.

The OAU has agreed to intervention if the move has UN support. However, the logistics of assembling up to 25,000 troops under a UN mandate are far from straightforward.

According to diplomatic sources, up to a dozen African countries would be willing to provide troops. However, only Egypt and Tanzania have so far spoken openly of intervention. Diplomats at the UN say that, in the event of an emergency mission, the main element would be made up of Western countries.

"The problem of who would send what is uncertain", says a diplomat in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura. "It now seems clear that the UN can't help. So there are many things to sort out like who would pay and which would be the lead country."

The US, which is backing the contingency plan, has said it would provide help with logistics but would not send troops.Britain, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Canada have also been involved in meetings to develop a contingency plan.

However, France, an influential country in Francophone central Africa, has shown itself unwilling to become involved.It has announced that it is suspending its military cooperation with Burundi and reducing civilian aid programmes because of the spiralling violence.

The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, has issued repeated calls for a "multinational force" rather than a UN-commanded mission. The failure of the UN to prevent genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994 has forced many to question the ability of the world body to respond to large-scale political and humanitarian crises.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone