US warns over Burundi weapons ultimatum

The United States raised alarm on Thursday over an ultimatum set by Burundi’s president for weapons to be surrendered and warned it could unleash more violence in the country.
President Pierre Nkurunziza set a five-day deadline on Monday for Burundians to hand over weapons or face police action, his latest move to quell months of violence sparked by his successful bid for a third term in office.
“The United States expresses its extreme concern that the five-day ultimatum issued by the president will trigger violence beginning this coming weekend,” US ambassador at the UN Samantha Power said in a statement.
Ms Power said the government, militias and opposition forces were resorting to “dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric” that risks inciting even greater violence.
She singled out the head of the Senate, Reverien Ndikuriyo, for using “the language of horrors the region hasn’t witnessed in 20 years,” in a reference to the Rwandan genocide.
Mr Ndikuriyo recently told followers “you have to pulverize, you have to exterminate — these people are only good for dying. I give you this order, go!,” according to the US statement.
Ms Power urged the government to enter into a dialogue with the opposition and to give African Union human rights monitors full access to the country.
Burundi has been engulfed in violence since President Nkurunziza announced in April that he would run for a third term, a move branded as unconstitutional by the opposition.
In July, the president won elections that UN observers said were neither free nor credible.
Some 200 people have been killed in the violence and 200,000 have fled the country.