A man runs past a burning barricade on a rock strewn street in Bujumbura's Niyakabiga district on Presidential election day in Burundi, July 21, 2015. A policeman and an opposition official died in violence marring the start of Burundi's presidential election, already hit by opposition boycotts and protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings - RTX1L6Z1

 

Civil Society organizations in the East African region want Burundi to be axed from the East African Community (EAC) regional bloc.

The activists said it was necessary for Burundi to leave the EAC because of its unwillingness to participate in the ongoing peace talks.

The East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) said the EAC and the UN should now impose   economic sanctions against Burundi.

Presenting his petition yesterday before EALA’s Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee (RACR), Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) Chief Executive Officer Donald Deya said the unrest in Burundi is on the increase with government officials in the country showing no interest in the ongoing peace talks.

Deya said the humanitarian crisis witnessed in the country was terrifying, adding that Burundi deserved to be axed from the bloc after turning a blind eye to the unrest.

“Various reports have shown that many people continue to die while no action has been taken to avert more deaths. Our fear is that we might witness genocide; the only remedy is to suspend Burundi membership from the bloc,” Deya argued.

He added that it was a shame for other countries in the region to remain tight-lipped while the situation was getting out of control over the last six months.

“Something needs to be done urgently or else we will be witnessing the worst,” he said.

According to Deya, a recent report on the refugee status by January 4, this year shows that Tanzania had welcomed 189,472 Burundians for refuge while an additional 124,061 had found their way there.

However, a section of lawmakers from EALA was quick to question the authenticity of the report and the allegations levelled against the unstable country, but in his defence, Deya claimed that the reports stemmed from the media and human rights organisations in Burundi.

A lawmaker from Tanzania observed that the humanitarian crisis needs to be resolved using the protocols that were used in establishing the community, warning that embarking on emotions in resolving the crisis was detrimental.

But the chairperson of the committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, Abdullah Mwinyi, assured the civil societies that his 13 member team was keen on listening on the petitions and later work on them.

EALA’s Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee entered its second day yesterday with a resolve of reviewing the petition by the Pan African Lawyers (PALU) submitted to the lawmakers in November last year.

In November last year four Civil Society Organisations led by PALU petitioned EALA to urgently undertake specified number of actions within its mandate to contain the deteriorating situation in Burundi.

The petition was presented to EALA’s speaker, Daniel Kidega, in Arusha by PALU and the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF).