Positive step forward as Burundi allows AU to send monitors

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The African Union will send 100 human rights monitors and 100 military monitors to Burundi, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has said, after he led other heads of state from the continent to the East African country to spearhead calls for dialogue.

Zuma, delivering a message on behalf of the African leaders, did not however say when the monitors would arrive or start work in the country, where 400 people have been killed since the start of violence in April last year.

Burundi descended into chaos after President Pierre Nkurunziza declared that he would bid for a controversial third term in office, one which he went on to win in July.

“We believe strongly that the solution to Burundi’s political problems can be attained only through inclusive and peaceful dialogue,” Zuma said in the statement, which also expressed “concerns” about the level of violence and killings.

The decision to send monitors suggests a compromise had been reached with the country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The new initiative falls far short of the African Union’s plan announced in December to send a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force, which Nkurunziza’s government rejected.

The statement by African leaders said Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni would convene dialogue with “all important stakeholders as soon as possible.” It did not say when.

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