By Pascal Kwesiga

KAMPALA, Uganda, the chief mediator for the Burundi peace talks, has stated that Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza would be committing a grave mistake by attacking African Union (AU) peacekeepers.

Burundi has been ensnared in a political crisis in which close to 400 people have died and about 300,000 forced to flee to neigbouring countries in the East African region.

The violence erupted after Nkurunziza launched his bid to stand for another term in office after completing the constitutional two five-year terms.

He won the controversial election with a resounding victory in July, triggering further violence which has been concentrated in the capital, Bujumbura, and its suburbs.

The 54-nation AU gave Burundi a four-day deadline on Dec 17 to accept a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to halt months of violence.

However, Nkurunziza on Dec 30 threatened to fight the proposed AU peacekeepers if they set foot on Burundian soil, defying intense global pressure to accept the force.

“Shooting at the African Union peacekeepers would be a big mistake. We are all members of AU and we are bound by its resolutions. If one is not satisfied with AU’s decision, they can challenge it through proper channels like through the AU summit,” Uganda’s defence minister, Crispus Kiyonga, said here Friday.



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