Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
March 2, 2016
The United States welcomes signs of intensified regional and international commitment to resolving the Burundi crisis. This includes the appointment of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the full-time facilitator for the regionally mediated dialogue and recent commitments by the Government of Burundi to the UN and African Union (AU) to release political prisoners and allow independent monitors.
In particular, the United States recognizes the AU High Level Delegation’s success in securing the Government of Burundi’s acceptance of 200 AU human rights and security observers, and we urge the government to allow these officials complete and free access to perform their duties by signing the memorandum of understanding associated with their deployment without delay.
We urge prompt action by the Government of Burundi to implement President Nkurunziza’s promise to release at least 2,000 detainees. We also call upon the Government of Burundi to lift all restrictions on media, create conditions for citizens to safely express dissenting views, and drop charges against and release political opponents. We welcome the decision by the Government of Burundi to accept the first visit by three United Nations independent experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council, to investigate violations and abuses, and to meet with all stakeholders.
The United States looks forward to the East African Community immediately announcing a date for the resumption of dialogue with all stakeholders, both those inside and outside the country. The United States continues to urge all sides to lay the groundwork for a successful dialogue by refraining from the daily grenade attacks, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and other acts of violence that continue to destabilize Burundi. We also urge all the stakeholders to publicly commit to participating in the regionally-mediated dialogue without preconditions or red lines.