In Burundi today, around two hundred students ignored the armed United States Marines as they climbed under the gate and over the wall that surrounds the United States Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi after Burundian police threatened to break up their camp outside of the embassy compound. This marks another day of unrest in a country that has been unstable since April of this year as a result of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s unconstitutional bid for re-election despite having already served two terms as president.
The scaling of the embassy walls were very peaceful in comparison to the grenade blasts that wounded at least eight people, a coup attempt and weeks of civil unrest that have been happening in the country. Even Burundi’s vice-president, Gervais Rufyikiri, has recommended that Nkurunziza put the interests of the Burundian people ahead of his own interests that violate the constitution of Burundi. Said vice-president also fled Burundi as a way of protesting Nkurunzizas bid for re-election.
While the Burundian students try to push for Nkurunziza to step down before the Parliamentary elections that are due on Monday, for now they wait in the American embassy’s parking lot while the United States Ambassador Dawn Liberi urging Burundi to find a peaceful solution but at the same, urged students to leave the compound.
I personally think that the peaceful protests that are occurring show the great strides that Burundi has made despite a long history of conflict within the country. Despite being amongst the poorest of the African nations, and one that is currently experiencing a refugee crisis and an epidemic of malnutrition, it is obvious that the youth of Bujumbura are serious about their politicians following the laws set forth in the constitution. And this is a great sign. However, I feel that the American embassy should certainly be careful and watch the situation in Burundi in case things do escalate and assist as best as they can to lead the way for peaceful negotiations if Nkurunziza does not step down.