More than 20,000 Burundians have crossed into Rwanda over the last four weeks as their country descended into a deadly crisis stemming from bitter wrangling over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for another term in office.
At least six people have been brutally killed in violent street protests following Saturday’s endorsement of Mr Nkurunziza as the ruling CNDD-FDD’s choice for the June elections, which opponents say he is ineligible to contest since he has already served his two terms as provided for by the country’s constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement.
His supporters, however, argue that the President is qualified to seek re-election since he was picked by Members of Parliament for his first term.
While the people of Burundi have every right to decide their political future and to autonomously interpret their laws for the good of the country, it becomes a totally different case when civilians are systematically targeted, maimed or killed due to their political beliefs.
It is imperative that something is done to stem the current violence before it gets any worse.
Leaders from around the world, including at the United Nations, need to go beyond the “we are closely watching events in Burundi” rhetoric and move swiftly to end the violence and calm the situation.
Whatever differences and concerns that exist over the upcoming elections must be sorted out in a peaceful way without anyone being targeted either for who they are or for their opinion.
It is about time the world moved to end systematic violence against innocent civilians.