Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Violence and Disturbing Rhetoric in Burundi

The United States is alarmed by the escalating violence in Burundi and dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric on the part of the government, loyalist militias, violent anti-government forces and criminal elements. The United States will support the region and our partners in the international community so that those who commit or incite violence are held accountable.

We are deeply concerned by President Nkurunziza’s speech of November 2nd, in which he pledged to use violent methods to have security forces search homes for weapons and opposition figures within five days. The continued sowing of a climate of fear and tension through such language and the use of such measures only prolongs and deepens Burundi’s political and security crisis. The United States expresses its extreme concern that the five-day ultimatum issued by the President will trigger widespread violence beginning this coming weekend.

We are also deeply disturbed by reports that incendiary and divisive speech is being used by other government officials. The President of the Burundian Senate, Révérien Ndikuriyo, has reportedly invoked the language of horrors the region hasn’t witnessed in 20 years. Whether in Kirundi or English, this language is terrifying: “You tell those who want to execute the mission: on this issue, you have to pulverize, you have to exterminate – these people are only good for dying. I give you this order, go!”

Such dangerous speech and the President’s call for a widespread, indiscriminate security crackdown exacerbate an already volatile situation and risk inciting even greater violence. We call on the Government of Burundi to allow immediate, unfettered access for African Union human rights and security monitors, and to act immediately on its stated commitment to participate in an internationally-mediated dialogue outside of Burundi in pursuit of a consensual path toward restoring stability and ending the climate of fear in the country.