Communities Can Help Turn Back the Threat of Terrorism

To turn back the threat of terrorism, countries must turn to local communities. Whether in France, Turkey, or here in the United States, militaries and intelligence agencies can protect us from external threats and bring terrorists to justice, but they cannot address the complex motives and hateful ideologies that drive people to terrorism in the first place.

Young people grappling with questions of identity and purpose, those aggrieved by perceptions of injustice and marginalization, and others who need social and mental support, can become vulnerable to the siren call of violent ideologies.

The digital age has amplified that call, equipping terrorist recruiters from groups like ISIL with new tools to draw vulnerable individuals into online communities where they learn to exalt and plot violence. Caught in their web, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and classmates become killers prepared to turn on their communities. When they do, we see attacks like those in San Bernardino and Paris.

In their wake, the impulse for action cannot distract from a simple truth: Real progress against terrorism requires not only eliminating terrorists, but also disrupting the process by which people become terrorists. Only a broader approach rooted in this reality can ensure that terrorists taken off the battlefield are not simply replaced.

That approach calls for a more holistic, community-driven effort, where local officials, parents, educators, business owners, and faith leaders partner to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, push back against their propaganda, and build off-ramps from the road to radicalization and violence.

The United States has promoted this broader approach to tackling terrorism at home and abroad under the mantle of Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE, which recognizes that empowered communities are among the best antidotes for preventing the spread of terrorist ideologies and must be an essential component of how we reduce this threat over the long term. But how does this broader approach translate in practice?

First, public officials at home and abroad must ensure effective governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. When governments fail to protect, respect, and serve all of their people, it creates openings that terrorists eagerly exploit. According to the Global Terrorism Index, 92 percent of all terrorist attacks over the last 25 years occurred in countries where state-sponsored violence, such as torture and political imprisonment, was widespread.

Second, public officials must proactively build trust and respect with local leaders and communities. From Afghanistan to Somalia to Colombia, research shows that when populations are marginalized and supporting institutions are absent, communities become more vulnerable to violent extremism. But when locals know what to look for and whom to call to protect friends and family from radical ideologies, and when they trust authorities to help them, those ideologies struggle to take root.

Around the world, local leaders are stepping up to protect their communities from terrorism. Youth in Uganda, Somalia, and the Philippines are pushing back against the extremist propaganda aimed at their peers. Police in Kenya are reaching out to build ties with resident Somalis targeted by Al Shabab for recruitment. Educators are developing new lessons to promote tolerance in classrooms across Mauritania. Mayors from around the globe are helping each other build local resilience to terrorism through a new Strong Cities Network.

At home, the United States is revamping efforts to counter terrorist propaganda, and is piloting programs in major American cities — including here in Boston — to mobilize community-led approaches to address the myriad forces that make people vulnerable to extremist ideology. That means reaching out — through both citizen groups and government — to those on society’s margins who lack the sense of community and purpose that terrorist groups exploit. It also means empowering mainstream voices to forcefully debunk violent ideologies of all stripes.

As the Islamic State emerges as a major terrorist threat, partnerships with Muslim communities at home and abroad become even more critical in these efforts. As President Obama has said, “ISIL does not speak for Islam,” and Muslims around the world are our greatest allies in debunking perversions of their faith. At home, Muslims are inseparable from the American family and enrich our society in countless ways, and we must rally to their side by rejecting bigotry and discrimination. These dark sentiments not only betray our deepest values but also feed the propaganda ISIL wields to lure new recruits.

In the long run, defeating groups like ISIL means not only eliminating terrorists, but also preventing people from becoming terrorists in the first place. We do that not by turning away from our values and our communities, but by embracing them.

About the Author: Sarah Sewall serves as Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Source: Dipnote

UGANDA AMENDS TRADE LICENSING LAW

By Samuel SanyaKAMPALA, The Uganda government has amended the Trade Licensing Act after President Yoweri Museveni assented to changes in the law to provide an appeal mechanism and to reduce the cost of doing business.Under the changes, businesses must …

BURUNDI PEACE TALKS BEGIN IN ENTEBBE, UGANDA

ENTEBBE, The dialogue on the Burundi peace process has resumed in Uganda in a continuation of consultations undertaken earlier in July 2015 in the Burundi capital of Bujumbura.

The talks, which were scheduled to start at 9 am, began two hours late. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, appointed as regional mediator, chaired the talks held in Uganda’s presidential palace in Entebbe, just outside the capital, Kampala.

In July, East African Community (EAC) leaders meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, tasked President Museveni to lead Burundi’s peace process a following the violence that broke out after President Pierre Nkurunziza changed the Constitution to enebale him to seek a third presidential term.

Since April 2015, the situation in Burundi has taken uncontrollable dimensions with extra judicial killings and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

Key parties in attendance say the resumption of talks in Uganda is critical and that it is appropriate for a quick return of peace in Burundi.

“I hope that and I wish that this resumption of the dialogue to be genuine and to produce good fruits which can give confidence to Burundians and the region as well,” said Opposition and National Liberation Forces leader Agathon Rwasa.

The government of Burundi is represented by a delegation led by the Minister of External Relations and International Co-operation, Alain Aimé Nyamitwe.

The main opposition leaders, religious leaders, civil society organizations, women associations as well as the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) officials are also attending the meeting

Source: SABC

PRES MUSEVENI ASSURES UGANDANS OF PEACE IN 2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS

KAMPALA, President Yoweri Museveni has assured Ugandans that the country is peaceful and there will be no problem ahead of the 2016 general elections.

He advised Ugandans to remain calm and carry on with their usual chores. Museveni, however, warned that those who threaten to cause violence would be restrained.

The President was reacting to comments by Esther Magagga, a lay leader from Nshwere, Kiruhuura district, who said in the current political environment, some Ugandans seem to be at odds with one another over subscribing to different political parties.

The President, who was accompanied by his wife, Janet Museveni, attended a service on Christmas day at St. Luke Church of Uganda, Nshwere in Kiruhuura district. Rev. Emmanuel Kwesiga led the service.

Turning to the local community, President Museveni warned them against overstocking their farms, saying apart from starving the cattle, it also leaves the land bare. He encouraged them to embrace paddocking and plant quality pasture to enable their cattle produce more milk.

The President stressed the importance of household income to ensure quality livelihood in homesteads. He also revealed that the Nshwere Road would be worked on in accordance with the Government plan of ensuring good roads throughout the country.

Museveni congratulated Christians of the area upon marking 50 years since St. Luke Church of Uganda in Nshwere, Kiruhuura district was established. The First Lady, who is also the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, thanked the people for turning up in large numbers to appreciate God’s blessings since they established the church.

She urged Ugandans to love one another and asked them to support NRM, saying the party has promoted peace and unity among Ugandans. Janet Museveni also called for reconciliation between people of different political ideologies.

Source: NEW VISION

As parties meet in Uganda, UN official urges consensual solution to Burundian crisis

A top United Nations official today called on all actors in Burundi to find a consensual solution to the crisis facing their country, which has been facing an upsurge in violence that has prompted fears of a relapse into the decades of civil war that killed tens of thousands of people.

“Burundi has gone through difficult times before and has a long history of dialogues. There are lessons to be learned from these past experiences,” Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, said at talks convened in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni, who is also mediator of the East African Community.

“Burundians are the ones who will live with the consequences of the decisions they make. They have the prime responsibility for finding a way forward for the future of their country,” Mr. Benomar added.

“This must be a nationally-led and owned effort which we as the international community stand ready to support.”

Burundi has been in the midst of a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term earlier this year, since when at least 400 people have been killed, with the toll possibly considerably higher, and 220,000 have fled to neighbouring States with many others internally displaced.

Just over a week ago, the UN Security Council, voicing deep concern at the escalation of violence in Burundi, called for urgent acceleration of mediation efforts by East African States and urged all Burundian stakeholders to fully cooperate with a proposed African Union peacekeeping mission.

The Council stated that only a “genuine and inclusive” dialogue would best enable the Burundian stakeholders to find a consensual solution to the crisis, a point that Mr. Benomar reiterated today.

He added that the UN has a wealth of experience in supporting national dialogue processes and is ready “to support you in any possible way,” working in partnership with colleagues in the East African Community and the AU.

“I sincerely hope today’s event will mark the beginning of the path towards a peaceful, stable and prosperous Burundi.

Source: Un News Centre

CHAOS AT KAMPALA BUS TERMINAL FLOODED BY FESTIVE SEASON TRAVELLERS

By Samuel Balagadde

KAMPALA, There has been unprecedented choas at Kampala’s major bus terminals as passengers travelling to destinations throughout the country for the year-end festive season outnumber the number of seats available in licensed public service vehicles.

Passengers are being forced to pay fares in advance even though some of the buses they are booked to travel in are still 100 kilometres away from Kampala, causing commotion at bus terminals.

Joseph Masaba, a businessman in Mbale, was found at the Qualicel bus terminal on Tuesday afternoon stranded with merchandise he had bought in Kampala.

“We are stranded here in the park with no buses to take us despite the increased fares by between 5,000 and 10,000 shillings (about 1.50 to 3.0 US dollars). The merchandise I am carrying is for sale for Christmas but the time is runnig out,” said Masaba.

Edward Kiyimba, operations manager with YY Coaches plying the Kampala-Mbale route, said the big numbers of passengers was always expected during the festive season and was caused by people opting to travel close to Christmas.

Source: NEW VISION

An unwanted guest: El Niño and Africa in 2016

El Niño is the largely unwanted Christmas gift – a warming of the tropical Pacific causing drought and floods that will peak at the end of this month, but will impact weather systems around the globe into 2016.

This year’s El Niño has been steadily gaining strength since March. It’s likely to be one of the most extreme events of this nature yet seen, with the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, warning that “millions will be impacted”.

El Niño’s links with drought in southern Africa and the Horn, and with heavy rains in East Africa, are well-established. Across the rest of the continent the climate connection is less clear. Other factors come into play, such as temperatures in the North Atlantic for West Africa’s weather, according to Richard Choularton, the World Food Programme’s chief of climate resilience for food.

What makes El Niño particularly bad news in 2016 is that it will be a second tough year in a row for farmers and pastoralists in Southern Africa and the Horn – and to a lesser extent East Africa. Eighty percent of their populations are dependent on agriculture. Their ability to cope with adversity has been stretched. Now they will be facing potentially an even sterner test.  

So what does that really mean for these vulnerable regions in the coming year? With the perils of weather forecasting acknowledged, here’s a snapshot.

Southern Africa:

More than 30 million people are already “food insecure” – lacking access to enough food to lead healthy lives as result of a poor harvest earlier this year. South Africa’s maize production has traditionally been the hedge against regional shortfalls. But this year drought was declared in five provinces and output dropped by 30 percent.

The fear is that the region will experience another El Niño-induced poor harvest, “possibly a disastrous one”, according to OCHA. Emergency maize stocks are depleted, and maize prices are climbing. Governments hard hit by the global fall in commodity prices, on which their economies depend, will need to find the money to buy maize on the international market. South Africa alone is expecting to import 750,000 tonnes to meet its needs.

Despite Southern Africa being a largely middle-income region, its rural populations historically have some of the world’s worst poverty indicators. Even in economic powerhouse South Africa, almost a quarter of all children under five are stunted. That level of deprivation limits people’s ability to bounce back after a shock. 

See: Southern Africa’s food crisis – from bad to worse

The worst-affected countries in 2016 will be Angola, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Mozambique. “Everyone is preparing for drought,” said Choularton. WFP, for example, is putting money and programmes in place in Zimbabwe, in anticipation of worse trouble to come, part of its new FoodSECuRE policy approach.

Further north, in the Horn and East Africa, which have more complicated climate and agricultural systems, the El Niño picture is less clear.

The Horn:

Poor rains have hit parts of Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia – but international media coverage has tended to focus on Ethiopia. In part that’s because a lazy connection gets drawn with the 1984 famine, but also because the numbers in need are so large. 

See: How bad is the drought in Ethiopia?

With the failure of both the Belg rains and the usually reliable Kiremt summer rains, “the worst drought in Ethiopia for 50 years is happening right now,” Save the Children said in a statement. The hardest-hit regions are in the north and east of the country. The UN believes 15 million people will face food shortages in 2016, with the next harvest not expected until June. Ethiopia has a population of close to 100 million. 

See: Ready or not – drought tests Ethiopia

Nearly eight million people are already under the national welfare Productive Safety Net Programme*. The government has committed $192 million to help combat the crisis, “but more help is urgently needed from donors and the international community to support the government to stop the situation from deteriorating further,” said Save the Children.

Meanwhile, heavy rains and flooding are predicted for Ethiopia’s low lying south and east. The Shebelle river basin and the easternmost Somali region are particular areas of concern, with flooding projected to affect 315,000 people. Flooding not only displaces people, but destroys infrastructure – washing away roads and bridges, affecting market access, and inundating schools and clinics.

Somalia experiences the same dual risks of drought and flooding – in a country characterised by some of the worst humanitarian and human development indicators in the world. Drought has singed the northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland, while heavy rains in the south and centre of the country have caused floods that OCHA estimates could affect some 900,000 people.

Even without El Niño about 3.2 million Somalis are in need of life-saving and livelihood support, while over 1.1 million people are internally displaced. 

East Africa:

Short rains, in the right amount and at the right time – from October to December – allow the regeneration of pasture, improve crop conditions and boost casual agricultural labour opportunities for poor households. 

Too much – if the rains run into January and February – then animals that are already weak from the long dry season will succumb to exposure. Heavy rains can also trigger waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid. Livestock become susceptible to Rift Valley Fever (RVF) – a viral mosquito-borne disease.  

El Niño conditions coupled with the warming of the Indian Ocean along the East African coastline is generating “highly enhanced rainfall”, according to the Kenya Metrological Department. The government’s contingency plan anticipated one million people at risk from flooding. The plan calls for the provision of relief seeds for replanting and subsidised fertilizer, as well as large-scale vaccination against RVF.

In Uganda, the government has called on 800,000 people regarded as at risk from landslides in mountainous regions to relocate to safer areas, where they will be supported with relief supplies. A 2,000-strong “Civil-Military Disaster Response Group” has been deployed to the Mount Elgon and Mount Rwenzori regions, as well as flood-prone areas in eastern, southwestern and western Uganda.

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Productive Safety Net Programme as the Protective Safety Net Programme
 
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102317 201110241301570923.jpg Analysis Unwanted: El Niño and Africa in 2016 Obi Anyadike IRIN NAIROBI Africa East Africa Djibouti Eritrea Ethiopia Somalia Sudan Uganda Southern Africa Angola Botswana Lesotho Mozambique South Africa Swaziland Zambia Zimbabwe

SPECIAL ENVOY FROM BURUNDI CALLS ON UGANDA’S PRESIDENT MUSEVENI

KAMPALA,President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has received a special message from his Burundian counterpart, President Pierre Nkurunziza.

A special envoy of President Nkurunziza and Chief of Staff in the President’s Office, Major-General Evariste Ndyashimiye, delivered the message to President Museveni at the Jinja State Lodge here Tuesday.

President Museveni and the envoy discussed issues pertaining to the on-going peace process in Burundi.

Also present at the meeting was Uganda’s Minister of Defence, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, and the Ambassador of Burundi in Uganda, Jean Bosco Barege.

Source: NEW VISION

Central African Republic: ICC Prosecutor warns against election-related violence, atrocity crimes

As the Central African Republic (CAR) prepares for general elections, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said today that her Office will record any instance of violence and that anyone committing atrocity crimes will be held accountable.

The polls are set to open on 27 December for the people of CAR to elect a President and representatives of the National Assembly. This follows the Constitutional referendum held earlier this month and is part of the ongoing process to complete the transition in the country after more than two years of fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups.

In a statement issued today, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted that the Constitutional referendum had benefited from strong participation despite a volatile security situation.

At the same time, she “observed with concern reported incidents of violence and threats in an effort to intimidate and obstruct people from voting,” adding that such violence may lead to crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and must stop.

“I want to be clear: my Office will continue to closely follow developments in CAR in the coming period and record any instance of violence or incitement to violence. Those who incite or commit atrocity crimes will be held accountable either by the relevant national authorities in CAR or at the ICC,” she stated.

In September 2014, following a referral by the CAR authorities, Ms. Bensouda announced her Office’s second investigation into crimes committed in the country.

“This investigation is ongoing; my Office continues to collect evidence, with a view to requesting warrants of arrest as soon as possible against those responsible for grave crimes committed since 1 August 2012, with no end date,” she said.

“The process of gathering evidence against any person who incites or engages in acts of mass violence before, during and after the elections is continuing. Such acts are serious crimes, which the ICC has jurisdiction to deal with.”

In addition to the two investigations related to the situation in CAR, the Court, which is based in The Hague, is also looking into the situations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Darfur region of Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.

Source: Un News Centre

Living on the Edge in a World of Changing Climate

World leaders recently convened in Paris to forge an historic agreement to take shared global action on climate change. While the Paris agreement is just a first step, it does encourage hope, and could fundamentally change the way global development unfolds.

Over the course of the conference, I found myself reflecting upon a trip I took to Nepal a few months after a massive landslide.

In August of 2014, a landslide occurred at the Sunkoshi River in the Sindhupalchok District of Nepal, killing 156 people and displacing hundreds of families. The following November I travelled to the region to observe the effects of landslides on local communities, hydropower plants, transit routes and the condition of the surrounding slopes. This trip highlighted the devastating effects landslides can have on local communities, particularly those that are most vulnerable.

With the onset of climate change, Nepal is likely to experience more frequent landslides and floods, higher temperatures, and more variable rainfall patterns.

Nepal is the fifth-poorest country outside of Africa with 23 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, but there is hope for progress. Since my college days studying abroad in Nepal nearly 20 years ago, the country has made remarkable strides in poverty reduction. But climate-related disasters disproportionately affect the poor and can quickly undo this progress.

We are seeing these changing conditions in many countries around the world. Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades and also has a large population living in extreme poverty, with many dependent on agriculture. In much of Indonesia, the dry season is getting longer, making it harder for people to access clean water.

Climate change is rightly a high-priority issue in international discussions because it poses existential threats, and for people living in extreme poverty, the impacts of climate change are already a matter of survival. Climate change can jeopardize their food security, access to clean water and stability of livelihoods.

Many of the extreme poor live in the countries with high climate risk, including countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Nigeria and Uganda.

Often, the extreme poor are forced to settle in at-risk areas because they are searching for economic opportunities and it’s less expensive to live there. For example, coasts provide access to transportation and trade, and floodplains may also offer high agricultural productivity.

Many people living in extreme poverty are dependent on livelihoods that are sensitive to the changing climate, like subsistence farming and fishing. Climate shocks not only destroy homes and lives, but often cause food insecurity and erase prospects for a quick recovery. The poor tend to have fewer marketable skills and personal savings, and less access to loans, or other vital community support or resources to help them rebound from an extreme weather event.

Even those who seem to escape poverty may remain perilously close to falling backwards. A new World Bank report warns that without serious action, climate change could push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the next 15 years.

For these reasons, we will not succeed in ending extreme poverty without also taking steps to address climate change.

Achieving our mission to partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies depends in part on our collective ability to help the extreme poor navigate the challenges of climate change. Our recently released Vision for Ending Extreme Poverty highlights these efforts.

USAID is working with partners around the globe to help the poor better anticipate and prepare for climate risks.

In Ethiopia, we are bringing scientific and local knowledge together to produce forecasts tailored to local needs, so rainfall-dependent farmers can make better planting decisions and improve their food security.

In Indonesia, we are promoting the building of infiltration ponds that collect and trap rain to recharge groundwater aquifers and ensure a consistent supply of running water.

In Nepal, USAID is partnering with NASA to use satellite imagery to help the Government of Nepal, partners and stakeholders better prepare for and respond to landslides, floods and degradation of biodiversity, saving lives and livelihoods.

These programs use access to information, appropriate technology and an understanding of local context to bolster the resilience of the poor to climate change impacts and other unanticipated environmental stressors.

While the Paris Agreement represents a tremendous victory, there is much work that remains. USAID and global development partners must continue to share knowledge, mitigate climate change by lowering emissions and help people manage the impacts of climate change by promoting resilient growth. Only by empowering communities around the world through sustainable and inclusive development will we meet the ambitious emissions reductions goals.

Because extreme poverty and the effects of climate change are so inextricably connected, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. And as Ban Ki Moon asserted about the Paris Agreement, we too believe that “It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”

About the Author: Noam Unger is the Acting Deputy Assistant to the Administrator and the Director of the Policy Office in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning.

Source: Dipnote

Will peacekeeper plan help end Burundi violence?

KAMPALA, lans for the African Union to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians in Burundi have been broadly welcomed, but will they help end months of deadly political unrest ignited by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s quest for a third term?

Friday’s announcement by the AU’s Peace and Security Council was historic for two reasons. It was the first time the AU had invoked a clause allowing it to intervene in a country without permission if the situation is grave enough. And it also lined up the possibility of a first operation for the fledgling East African Standby Force within a member country.

See: Long road to an African rapid reaction force

But experts cautioned that we shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves, not only because the United Nations still has to approve the move, but also because Nkurunziza may not allow it.

“It is important to note that the idea of the deployment first has to be approved by the Burundian government,” Stephanie Wolters, head of conflict prevention and risk analysis at the Institute for Security Studies, told IRIN.

If it refuses, the matter goes back to the AU for a vote of heads of state. Two thirds must be in favour in order for the deployment to go ahead, and with several other regional leaders facing mandate issues and wary of setting a precedent for foreign intervention, this is by no means assured.

“Although the African Union charter allows for intervention in a member state in the event of an acute crisis such as genocide, war and crimes against humanity, this does not mean that African heads of state will approve the deployment of troops,” Wolters said.

“Many other heads of state would likely frown upon the possibility that the AU could intervene in their own domestic matters, so a vote in favour of the deployment is far from guaranteed. It would be ground-breaking, as it would be the first time that the AU sends troops to a country without being invited.”

Could such a force actually work?

Phil Clark, a Great Lakes expert at SOAS, University of London, said it was a long overdue response by the AU but doubted the plans would be effective if implemented.

“Most likely the troops will come from the East African Standby Force, which has no direct fighting experience,” Clark told IRIN. “The Standby Force has provided military advisors in Somalia and elsewhere but it has never fired a shot in anger. It seems ill-prepared to deal with the magnitude of the situation in Burundi.”

There would also be concerns about which countries’ soldiers should comprise the force. How, for example, could Rwanda join given Nkurunziza’s allegations that Kigali has been supporting Burundian rebels?

“For these reasons, I doubt the Standby Force can help end the conflict,” said Clark. “It may even inflame the situation if Burundi interprets this as military meddling by its neighbours.”

Christoph Vogel, a Great Lakes expert at the University of Zurich, agreed.

“Neutrality is an issue,” he told IRIN. “Technically, there are few fully honest brokers in the region. Literally, each neighbour country, for instance, has security concerns and hosts Burundian refugees.”

Experts also voiced concerns about the finances and logistics of such a mission, especially as the AU does not have the resources and would have to rely on outside donors.

Talks not guns

Ultimately, negotiation rather than military intervention is the best chance of a long-term solution to the political unrest, which has left hundreds dead since April and displaced hundreds of thousands more. But experts felt the AU move could still form part of the solution.

“The recent escalation of violence, demands some sort of intervention – if only to work as a buffer and contain violence against civilians,” said Vogel. “However, if not accompanied by a genuine political process – none of which we have seen so far – military intervention is always at risk of becoming peacebuilding lip-service or captured by other interests.”

The Ugandan government, which is chairing regional mediation efforts, has said that Burundi peace negotiations will start soon.

“We hope this week or next week, once the logistics are in place and the parties convene in Kampala, then the talks can start,” Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters on Monday.

Jason Stearns, from the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, welcomed the AU plans on peacekeepers as a means to an end.

“The deployment of an African Union force might provide the pressure needed to get a real political process under way,” he told IRIN.

“It’s not so much having troops who will be engaged in fighting – although it hopefully would put a damper on the violence – but by sending a mission the AU deploys political and diplomatic assets that can help forge a peaceful path out of the current morass.”

Wolters agreed.

“It is very important that the AU take a strong lead on the Burundi crisis and that is why this decision is significant, even if it does not automatically give the AU the green light to deploy,” she said.

How do Burundians feel?

In the flashpoint districts of Bujumbura, where most of the unrest has taken place, including some 87 people killed in the worst day of violence last week, there was relief at the news.

Fidélité Hakizumukama, who owns a beauty salon in the Musaga neighbourhood, told IRIN it was “a good thing as the international community will see the reality or the scale of the massacres that are taking place, especially in the capital.”

Martin Dushime, 31, in Ngagara, said that since protests erupted in April ahead of Nkurunziza’s reelection to a constitutionally dubious third term in July, he had been living each day in “grave fear.”

“I can only welcome with joy the decision to send African Union troops to Burundi for 2 reasons: because there might be a counter-force against the brutality of the ‘security forces’ and secondly so that people can get back to their normal lives: go and see their friends, go and pray, go out for the evening – those small things that today seem to be forgotten in our supposedly anti-establishment districts.”

However, not all were in agreement.

“I am shocked,” Gad Ndayikunda, a member of the ruling party’s Imbonerakure youth wing, told IRIN. “It’s a way to deprive the Burundian majority of their sovereignty.”

See: Who are the Imbonerakure and is Burundi unravelling?

Nkurunziza led a faction of Hutus against the then Tutsi-dominated army during Burundi’s 1993-2005 civil war and although the country has made great strides since, there are concerns that worsening political violence could deepen any lingering ethnic tensions.

Source: IRIN

EU deploys an Election Observation Mission to Uganda

In response to an invitation from the Ugandan authorities, the European Union will deploy an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Uganda to observe the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections which are scheduled for 18 February. This will be the third time that the European Union observes elections in Uganda – previous missions took place in 2006 and 2011 – which reflects the EU’s sustained commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, appointed MEP Eduard Kukan as Chief Observer.

The High Representative stated: “The Republic of Uganda is preparing for its third multi-party general elections to be held on 18 February 2016. I trust that the forthcoming elections will be transparent and peaceful and will further consolidate democracy. Under the leadership of Chief Observer Mr. Kukan, I am confident that the EU EOM will make an important contribution to this electoral process”.

Upon his appointment, Mr. Kukan declared “I look forward to take on my task as Chief Observer for the EOM to Uganda. The EOM will provide an independent and impartial assessment of the elections. The EOM will closely follow all stages of the elections, including the campaign and will work in a transparent and cooperative manner with all Ugandan stakeholders”.

The EOM Core Team of ten election experts will arrive in Uganda on 28 December and will stay in the country until the completion of the election process. They will be joined by 30 long-term observers on 8 January and by 54 short-term observers on 12 February who will be deployed across the country. A delegation of the European Parliament and EU diplomats resident in Uganda will reinforce the mission on election day. The EU EOM will liaise with other international observation missions who will be present in Uganda. The EOM will issue a Preliminary Statement 48 hours after election day, and a Final Report with recommendations at a later stage.

FOR FURTHER DETAILS:

Catherine Ray: +32 (0)498 96 99 21 – +32 (0)2 296 99 21 – Catherine.Ray@ec.europa.eu – @CatherineEUspox

Maja Kocijancic: +32 (0)498 984 425 – +32 (0)2 298 65 70 – Maja.Kocijancic@ec.europa.eu – @MajaEUspox

Daniel Puglisi: +32 (0)460 767374 – +32 (0)2 29 69140 – Daniel.Puglisi@ec.europa.eu

Source: European Union External Action