East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) lawmakers yesterday urged regional countries to stop ‘‘burying their heads in the sand’’ on the security situation in Burundi but act decisively to stabilise EAC partner state.
The lawmakers stressed this as the Assembly held a special sitting in Arusha, Tanzania in honour of Hafsa Mossi, the Burundian member of the regional Assembly who was assassinated near her home, in the Burundian capital, last week.
There was a sombre atmosphere in the House.
MPs decided not to just mourn but “celebrate the life well lived” by Mossi who was shot and killed by unknown assailants on July 13 near her home, in eastern Mutanga, Bujumbura.
MP Dora Byamukama (Uganda) said: “When it comes to security, we need to do more for honorable members but also for the Community.
“I think we in the East African Community are burying our heads in the sand on the situation in Burundi. Have we given South Sudan and Burundi the attention they deserve?” she asked.
Lawmakers emphasised that the region must not pretend that all is well in Burundi.
MP Nancy Abisai (Kenya) told the House that “the time has come” to think about the ordinary Burundian citizens who are suffering.
“What can we do together to make sure that people aren’t going to continue to suffer,” she posed.
Abisai said Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, cannot afford to constantly close their eyes to the plight of the people of Burundi.
Abisai said: “Let us think about the ordinary person. If a general can be shot in broad daylight, and if honorable Hafsa Mossi can be shot, where is safety there? Surely, we can’t do anything for Burundi?
The Summit and the Council of Ministers need to sit and make a firm resolution to address this crisis.”
In April, Burundian General Athanase Kararuza was, together with his wife and bodyguard, killed by unknown assailants in Gihosha, north of the Burundian capital.
MP Christophe Bazivamo (Rwanda) said: “The Summit should take quick and strong measures to ensure that peace and security are restored in Burundi to avoid any further killings. It is important to have peace and security restored in our sister country.”
Mossi’s death shocked many in the region and beyond, rekindling calls for determined action to stabilise Burundi where the ordinary population is bearing the blunt of the ongoing unrest.
According to the UN agency in charge of refugee affairs, UNHCR, nearly 300,000 Burundians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Tanzania, and DR Congo since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced intent to run for his current third term, last year.
More than 400 people have died in the violence that ensued.
Reports say that although there is a slight lull in violence at the moment, refugees arriving in other countries continue to report human rights violations and difficulty in leaving.
MP Mike Sebalu (Uganda) said: “This situation cannot break our resolve to keep united as a Community. We are in this together and must continue to be, challenges notwithstanding.’’
“She is a legacy in her own self. Hafsa Mossi was a loving mother. She was a very likeable person who would relate with everyone. If you had issues with her, then you are a very difficult person,” Sebalu said of the assasinated colleague.
“She was a team player who believed in delivery as a team. She was a consensus builder too, who applied a lot of soft skills as opposed to hard ones; always looking for an easy way out without getting confrontational.”