A former high-ranking Burundi army officer announced the creation of a rebel force that seeks to oust President Pierre Nkurunziza, deepening an eight-month crisis in the East African nation that’s left hundreds of people dead.
“In order to protect people and property, and after extensive consultation, we decided to form an armed force called the Republican Forces of Burundi,” Lieutenant Colonel Edouard Nshimirimana said Wednesday on Radio Bujumbura International, an Internet-broadcaster based in Belgium.
He said the force, known as Forebu, had consulted with several armed groups operating in the nation, which holds an estimated 6 percent of the world’s nickel deposits.
More than 400 people have been killed since April in bloodshed arising from Nkurunziza’s decision to vie for a third term and his subsequent win. His opponents say he violated accords that ended a civil war that limited presidential tenures to two terms only.
Negotiations to end the crisis are scheduled to restart on Dec. 28 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The African Union has announced plans to send 5,000 peacekeeping troops to quell the violence, a step rejected by Burundi’s government.