Koenders urges Burundi to prevent large-scale violence

The Burundian government must do everything it can to prevent civil war in the African country. Those were the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders on Wednesday, following talks with his Burundian counterpart Alain Aimé Nyamitwe. The ministers spoke to each other in The Hague in relation to the extremely alarming political and humanitarian situation in Burundi.

Mr Koenders said, 'There is a deep political crisis in Burundi which could soon get out of hand.' Tensions in Burundi have been running high since April, when President Nkurunziza announced that he would stand for a third term as president. Mr Nkurunziza's opponents say that in doing so he is violating both the constitution and the peace agreements which brought an end to the bloody civil war in Burundi.

'The crisis in the country is escalating, with horrific violence being perpetrated against civilians. In the interests of the entire population, the violence must stop and an inclusive dialogue must be initiated,' continued Mr Koenders, who is extremely concerned about the continuing human rights violations in the country.

'At present Burundi is not doing enough to protect people from the violence,' said the minister, who called on his counterpart to improve security in Burundi. Mr Koenders emphasised to Mr Nyamitwe the importance of discussions between the various stakeholders: 'Specific commitments from all of the parties involved are urgently needed to ensure a more stable political situation in Burundi.'

Mr Koenders spoke to Mr Nyamitwe about the recently adopted UN Security Council resolution, which condemns the current violence and impunity in the country. This resolution also calls on the Burundian authorities to immediately provide their full cooperation to the East African Community and the African Union in order to initiate a dialogue with the opposition inside and outside the country.

The Netherlands is actively working behind the scenes to prevent further violence and is maintaining close contact with all relevant players. On account of the violence and the unfairly conducted elections, aid to the Burundian government has been suspended. However, Dutch aid will continue to be provided to civil society organisations in Burundi.