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Burundi Crisis: Impoverished African nation weeps as no one shows interest in this nowhere land

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    Image Credits: Reuters

By Rukma Singh

Last month, Burundi had erupted in a series of street protests against the president’s decision to run for a third term in office. The protests have been met with great force by police. Several civilians and police officers have been killed. The emerging and developing political crisis in Burundi, is complex to understand. What is essential to keep in mind, however, is how the international community’s role will eventually attain supremacy in giving a direction to the situation.

The crisis

In March of last year, President Pierre Nkurunziza, narrowly lost a vote in parliament, that would have removed term limits and allowed him to run for a third term. The period immediately after the vote, offered an opportunity for the international community, to rally around the Burundian elite to ensure that the norm of term limits stuck, sufficiently isolating Nkurunziza and his allies. In a country of Burundi’s size, how the international community engages with local issues matters a great deal for the domestic conduct of politics.

History

Ever since Burundi achieved independence from Belgium in 1962, the country has experienced various episodes of mass and revenge killings between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. The bloodshed reached its peak during a 10-year civil war, during which over 300,000 people were killed. In 2002, a successful but tenuous peace was established through the groundbreaking Arusha Accords, and for the first time, ethnic differences appeared to be put to one side.

Increasing turmoil

The government had taken an increasingly authoritarian approach, cracking down on independent media and civil society – including the arrests of Pierre-Claver Mbonimba, a human rights activist, and Bob Rugurika, a popular radio journalist. There have been credible reports that the government, and, to a lesser extent, the opposition were actively arming the youth wings of their parties. At the end of 2014, a massacre took place in Cibitoke, in which at least 47 people were killed, an event that underscored the increasing potential for larger scale atrocities within Burundi.

One thing can be said for the crisis unfolding in Burundi over the past month and a half: it has put this small impoverished East African nation, which most Israelis cannot locate on a map, into the international news cycle.

The ray of hope

On the one hand, socio-economic problems, rising social discontent and extrajudicial killings put severe strains on the government. On the other hand, parallel dialogues have recently started between the European Union and the Burundian government, and between Burundian political actors.

Continuing these parallel dialogues and consolidating peace in Burundi will require mutual concessions by the ruling party and the opposition. It will also require that the donors maintain dialogue with the authorities on the political and security problems, and resort to financial incentives, particularly for the preparation of the elections and the security sector reform. International efforts should focus on protecting journalists and civil society activists, empowering the independent human rights commission, and promoting a security sector reform centered on human rights.

Recent developments

The head of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Saturday, urged rival-sides in Burundi to engage in dialogue to solve the political crisis gripping the central African nation.

“We would like to encourage all the parties to engage in constructive dialogue placing the interest of the country and the people, welfare and lives of their people and stability and peace above all else,” said AU chairwoman, Dlamini-Zuma at a peace and security meeting in Johannesburg, on the eve of an African Union summit.

Since last month Nkurunziza has faced international pressure to reconsider his attempt to stay in power, which observers fear could plunge the country back into war.

The country will hold parliamentary elections on June 29 and a presidential poll on July 15.

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Former US President Says, A Peaceful World Requires More Women Politicians Than Men

Former President encourages the existence of more women politicians for a peaceful world

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Jimmy Carter with his wife at a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Former President Jimmy Carter, right, and his wife Rosalynn arrive for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a solar panel project on farmland he owns in their hometown of Plains, Georgia. VOA

Discrimination against women and girls is a more pressing global challenge than disparities in income between the rich and the poor, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday.

The 93-year-old, who established the Carter Center in 1982 to prevent and resolve conflicts and push for human rights, also backed women to bring about a more politically stable world.

The Former President Of US, Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that a woman is more inclined to peace than a man is, so I think we can move towards peace if women get more and more positions in parliament and more and more positions as president,” he said.

Carter was speaking at the annual Skoll World Forum, a gathering of 1,200 social entrepreneurs. He previously cited disparity in income as the world’s greatest challenge when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Also Read: Melania Trump Presents International ‘Women Of Courage’ Awards

Carter also pointed to unequal numbers of women and men in parts of India and China, suggesting that prejudice against females meant they had been killed by their families.

Experts have said previously that a strong preference for sons is the root cause behind the uneven ratios, with some parents taking illegal gender tests to abort female fetuses.

The Skoll Foundation was bestowing on Carter its Global Treasure Award. Sally Osberg, president of the foundation, said there were no formal criteria for the award.

“We just know that there is someone in our midst whose integrity is inspiring and whose record of achievement in addressing the world’s pressing problems is nothing less than stunning,” said Osberg.

Female politicians are no less than men, they are even better.
        Female politicians have always been making headlines all            over town.

Previous winners have included fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Dalai Lama and Irish rock star Bono.

Carter served as president between 1977 and 1981. He was succeeded by Ronald Reagan.

Carter was followed on to the stage at Skoll by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the United Nations’ agency on women, who reminded the audience that it was Equal Pay Day in the United States.

The awareness-raising day has been observed for two decades to mark how many more days women must work in a subsequent year simply to catch up with what men earned in the previous year.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the average global gender pay gap was 23 percent, adding that this could be worse for women of color, indigenous women, those who are disabled, or for reasons of sexual orientation.  VOA