Obama Urges Burundian Army to Stay Out of Political Conflict

  • Violence growing a decade after end of war that killed 300,000
  • Latest tumult sparked by president's decision to seek 3rd term

U.S. President Barack Obama urged the Burundian army to help bring peace to the East African nation by staying out of the political conflict in which at least 240 people have died so far.

The military can help keep peace “by staying out of political conflicts and protecting the people of Burundi," Obama said in a video posted on the website of the U.S. embassy in the country. He also encouraged Burundi’s leaders to "follow through" on a commitment to participate in an internationally mediated dialog outside the country.

Violence in Burundi, home to 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, escalated with the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza in July, with opponents saying the result violated a two-term limit set out in peace accords that ended 12 years of previous conflict. More than 200,000 have fled their homes since Nkurunziza announced his bid for another term in April, raising the specter of a fresh civil war a decade after the end of an ethnic conflict between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi communities that killed 300,000.

The United Nations Security Council on Nov. 12 condemned the growing number of killings and torture cases in Burundi and said it’s considering “additional measures” against anyone blocking a peaceful solution to the crisis.

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