James Duddridge, Minister for Africa, visited Burundi on 17 December at the end of a three day visit to the region that also included stops in Uganda and Rwanda. The focus of the visit was the continuing conflict and political upheaval in Burundi. The situation is deteriorating and the Minister stressed that the international community must act together to stop it getting any worse.
The Minister was able to discuss the prospects for a negotiated solution with President Museveni, Foreign Minister Kutesa and Defence Minister Kiyonga in Uganda and Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo in Rwanda. He also saw members of the Burundian opposition in Kigali and Foreign Minister Nyamitwe in Bujumbura. The Minister stressed that all sides are responsible for ensuring the violence stopped and for working towards a political solution.
Speaking before his departure from Bujumbura Mr Duddridge said:
I have heard increasingly harrowing accounts of human rights abuses across Burundi. Accounts that are repeated in the report of the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights following their recent visit to Burundi. I utterly condemn any and all violence, no matter who perpetrates it.
Those in positions of power in Burundi have a particular responsibility to provide security for all their citizens, regardless of their political views. And all parties must enter into dialogue so that this cycle of violence can be brought to an end.
The international community will continue supporting the AU and East African Community as they seek a solution to the crisis. Now, more than ever, the Burundian people need their leaders to act in the country’s best interests before more lives are lost and Burundi descends into wider conflict.