, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 24 – Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro have added their voices to those calling on the African Union and regional leaders to intervene and end the killings in Burundi.
In his goodwill message to Kenyans ahead of the Christmas holidays, Odinga called on those propagating the war to dialogue stating that their efforts were yet to bring peace to the nation which got out of a disputed election in July.
“As a (Odinga) family, we join the President and our citizens in prayers that prudence, wisdom, and understanding might descend on our nation and on our neighbours, particularly the people of Burundi, so that during the year ahead, we may realize an ancient and wondrous dream of “peace on earth and goodwill to humanity,” he said.
On his part, Ethuro called on Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza to allow 5,000 AU peacekeeping troops into the country to end the civil strife.
The Senate Speaker who is the former President of the Forum of Parliaments of Member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (FP-ICGLR) noted that the conflict in Burundi impacted on the entire EA region and hence the need to end it.
“He must stop the violence. He has no choice but to let the African Union forces to intervene to block the killings which have been going on for far too long,” Ethuro said.
“As leaders, we cannot have people in one corner of the region suffering while the rest of the world is celebrating Christmas.”
Lawmakers from Burundi’s ruling party on Monday endorsed their government’s opposition to the proposed deployment of an AU peacekeeping force to their country, where chronic violence is stoking fears of civil war.
“Burundi is at peace. There are troubles in just a few areas of Bujumbura” said Pascal Nyabenda, chairman of the National Assembly and the ruling CNDD-FDD party whose supporters dominate parliament.
Other lawmakers complained of Western “interference” and biased media coverage of Burundi’s crisis and rejected talk of a looming genocide as “rumours” with “no basis.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday appointed Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho as his envoy to Burundi as he called for peace and reconciliation to the people of Burundi.
Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third consecutive term in office amid opposition.
The conflict which ensued has since seen more than 240 people killed with more than 200,000 having fled the country.