A plan by the African Union (AU) to send peacekeeping troops to Burundi has hit a snag, after the government said the move would be considered an invasion.

According to Al Jazeera, Smail Chergui, the AU commissioner for peace and security, confirmed that the proposed deployment of 5,000 troops would be deferred until permission was granted by Bujumbura, despite a provision in the AU charter which allows it to intervene without consent.

In December last year, the AU’s Peace and Security Council proposed the deployment of 5,000 peacekeepers, on a mission to protect civilians and prevent the growing violence from spiralling out of control, after months on fighting. Bujumbura heavily opposed the proposal.

The council recommended that the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) should go into Burundi whether or not the government wants it.

However, following a closed-door meeting at the AU summit in Ethiopia, a decision was made to suspend the proposal to send troops.

 African Union conference center and office complex AUCC-NGR. Photo: Guardian

African Union conference center and office complex AUCC-NGR. Photo: Guardian

The continental bloc has instead proposed further dialogue between the government and opposition groups and made assurances to send a delegation to resolve to unfolding crisis.

However, the AU’s previous “efforts and engagement to finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis” have been futile.

The unfolding political crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extension of his presidency has not shown any signs of receding. Despite calls from international rights groups for Burundi to halt the fighting, political stability and human security has remained elusive.

Last week, human rights group Amnesty International released satellite images thought to be of five mass graves near Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura where “authorities allegedly buried people killed by police on 11 December 2015 in mass graves”.

According to the UN, at least 400 people have been killed since April when the fighting began and more than 230,000 refugees have fled the conflict, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Relief organisations have been calling for urgent assistance, with growing concerns over the humanitarian situation in the the neighbouring countries and in Burundi itself.

Source: Al Jazeera