WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement marking the second anniversary of protests against Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term in office:
“On April 26, 2015, many Burundian citizens took to the streets to express their discontent that President Nkurunziza planned to seek a third term in office in violation of the country's Arusha Accords and the Constitution. Since this time, some 400,000 refugees have fled due to widespread repression and intimidation by government security forces and the ruling party's youth militia, as well as the use of hate speech by political leaders inciting their followers to violence. According to some estimates, up to 1,400 people have died in these two years of unrest.
“At a time when three million Burundians are facing food insecurity, the government continues to hamper the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance. In addition to rejecting the deployment of a UN-authorized police force, the government has refused to cooperate with international human rights monitors. Moreover, government officials suggest that they may abrogate additional components of the Arusha Accords, which ended Burundi's civil war and contributed to the decade of peace that preceded this current crisis.
“Burundi's political crisis should not be allowed to fester. As such, I call for the government of Burundi to fully cooperate with the UN's human rights mechanisms, which includes allowing full access for international human rights monitors. In addition, I ask the government to cease any calls for incitement to violence and to participate in regionally-mediated peace talks without the preconditions that have hampered past negotiations. Finally, I hope that the new leadership of the African Union Commission, Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, considers having the AU play a more active role in resolving this crisis.”