The debate about the Rwandan genocide in which up to a million people lost their lives still reverberates. The question of why Rwandans did this to each other and why the world stood by remains bitterly contested.
Shall the same be repeated in Burundi? The upsurge in violence in the Eastern Africa country has raised fears of a return to civil war, a decade after the end of a 1993-2006 conflict between rebels from the Hutu majority and an army dominated by minority Tutsis, which left 300,000 people dead. It is reminiscent of what happened in Rwanda as calls for help fell on the deaf ears of officials in the rut of UN routine.
The violence is a big test to the AU and East African Community’s capability to solve problems in the region. Meanwhile, an unstable Burundi is a threat to regional peace. The 54-member AU has said that it will send a 5,000-strong force to halt the violence, a move that Burundi's parliament has criticized. The AU and EAC must not be stuck in diplomatic but counterproductive routine. They must speedily resolve the issue.