Burundi’s government said Sunday it would not agree to the deployment of African Union (AU) peacekeepers, warning that they would be seen as “an invasion force”.
The announcement came a day after the 54-member bloc said it would send a 5,000-strong forced to halt spiralling violence in the tiny central African country as fears grow it is rapidly sliding towards civil war.
It gave the government in Bujumbura a four-day deadline to agree to the offer, but warned it would send troops anyway.
“Burundi is clear on the matter: it is not ready to accept an AU force on its territory,” deputy presidential spokesman Jean-Claude Karerwa told AFP.
“If AU troops came without the government’s approval, it would be an invasion and occupation force, and the Burundi government would reserve the right to act accordingly.”
Burundi has so far dismissed proposals for any peacekeeping force on its territory and Mr Karerwa said any such move by the AU would have to be approved by the United Nations Security Council.
“The Burundi government believes the AU resolution cannot be automatically applied and must first be endorsed by the UN Security Council,” he said.
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