Since then, targeted killings of key opposition figures have multiplied. Mr Zedi Feruzi, who headed the opposition Union for Peace Development Party and was an outspoken critic of Nkurunziza's third term, was killed in Bukumbura. The Party' spokesman, Patrice Gahungu, was shot dead on his way home in Bujumbura. The body of Charlotte Umugwaneza, an activist for the opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD), was found in the Gikoma River. Human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, survived assassination attempt.
Opposition figures, however, are not the only victims. Attacks on journalists have grown in the past few months. Now, as results, the majority of the opposition is outside of the country and journalists are fleeing, leaving an information vacuum that social media has tried to fill.
In a political scene dominated by oppression, the military has also seen its share of desertions, targeted killings and rumors of rebellions. Two high-ranked officers-the deputy commander of an elite infant unit, Maj Emmanuel Ndayikeza and Lt. Col. Edouard Nshimirimana-were reported missing, along with material, including 100 army radios, strengthening rumors of rebellion.
The EU first issued targeted sanctions against four individuals: three connected to the government and one who participated on the failed coup, making sure not to only target Nkurinziza's camp. Aid suspension and broader economic sanctions followed when EU-brokered dialogue failed to resolve the crisis.
It is true that sanctions have severe effects on an already struggling population, since the EU is one of the main funder of Burundi's budget. But sanctions on targeted individuals are not strong enough to bend Nkurunziza's regime, which now relies more on Russia and China, countries which do not wish to interfere in the country's political turmoil.
The AU has also decided to increase the number of human rights observers in Burundi. Most consequentially, the AU's Peace and Security Council communiqué raised the possibility of deploying the EASF to prevent further violence. At the end, the AU backtracked after Nkurunziza's threats. Now the AU's Peace and Security Council should revisit the decision of deploying the EASF to end the political turmoil.
For one, it would be the first deployment of one of the five regional African Standby Forces (ASF), and as such, would be an important test for the AU's African Peace and Security Architecture. The AU currently is undertaking its first filed exercise on a continental level, known as AMANI Africa, to test the operational readiness of the ASF, with more than 5,000 troops in South Africa.
An EASF deployment would be a complete example of the AU's normative shift from non-intervention to a doctrine of non-indifference, meaning that the AU has the responsibility to protect a state's population from human rights violations.