A strong group within the African Union, including AU Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, backed the sending of an armed force to Burundi to confront President Pierre Nkurunziza's government. This followed a succession of alarming reports from AU and UN observers.
Last week's AU summit debated the merits of armed intervention. It
decided against it because of opposition from countries such as South
Africa and Tanzania.
South Africa and Tanzania led a successful
intervention in the east of Congo-Kinshasa
but taking on the Burundi
army would have made matters still worse in the absence of a political
agreement, they concluded.
In fact, the AU lacks the tools for the job,
even if its leaders can agree on intervention. It is yet to agree on
the organisation of a rapid response force and there is confusion about
how the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate
Response to Crises will work together. Meanwhile, groups of countries
such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have organised regional
intervene in Somalia, and West
African states have done the same in
Mali. Now, five years after a
Western intervention in Libya,
states led by France and Italy are planning another
time, they want to hit the estimated 5,000 fighters loyal to Da’ish
('Islamic State') there. But while the AU struggles with its plans in
Burundi and the far worse conflict in South
Sudan, it faces being
sidelined again in Libya.