WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, introduced a resolution calling on Burundi’s political opposition to renounce violence and urging the government to comply with constitutional limits on presidential terms and re-engage in regional peace negotiations (H.Res.651).
“President Nkurunziza undercut a decade of genuine democracy in Burundi in 2015 when he decided to run for a third term in violation of the Arusha Accords that ended the country’s civil war. The Burundian people deserve a government that engages in constructive peace negotiations and cooperates with efforts to investigate human rights abuses against its citizens. It’s important for countries like Burundi to stay on this Administration’s radar which is why I introduced this resolution,” said Rep. Engel. “Until the government and armed opposition cease their destabilizing actions, I urge the United Nations Security Council and the African Union to take more robust actions to pressure these parties to find a political solution to this crisis, and I urge the State Department to sustain diplomatic pressure to mitigate risk of further violence.”
“The people of Burundi have undergone immense atrocities in their recent history, and deserve a strong response from the international community. By bringing attention to the multi-faceted conflict taking place there, we remind those who are suffering and displaced that they are not forgotten. We believe that strategic engagement with the country can help prevent further atrocities from taking place,” said Rep. Hultgren.
“Burundi has been in crisis since 2015 after President Nkurunziza insisted on running for a third term. Since then, the political and security situation there has worsened and the country has fallen at risk of mass atrocities. The government of Burundi and the political opposition must renounce violence and armed rebellion. The Burundian people deserve peace. Politically motivated violence is unacceptable and this Congress should come together as a body joining the Africa Union and the UN in condemning it,” said Rep. Bass.
Since 2015, there have been more than 2,000 people killed, 200,000 internally displaced persons and over 420,000 refugees spilling into neighboring countries. This resolution calls on the political opposition to renounce violence and armed rebellion; calls on the Burundian government to disarm illegal combatants, investigate human rights violations, and participate in negotiations brokered by the East African Community; and asks the African Union and United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against perpetrators of violence as well as the President of the United States to also sanction armed groups that are threatening prospects for peace. Finally, the resolution asks the United States Department of State and USAID to develop a strategy to mitigate the risk of political violence and concentrate U.S. assistance on supporting civil society, free press, and food and humanitarian aid to populations in need.
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