The African Union says it has written to Burundi's president urging him to consent to the deployment of a peacekeeping force to quell the country's escalating unrest.

In statement A.U. Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma stressed that there is no ulterior motive in sending the troops other than to assist the people of Burundi.

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has rejected the A.U.'s plans to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers, describing it as an invasion force. At least 400 people have died since April when it was announced that Nkurunziza would run for a third term in office. Violent street demonstrations opposing Nkurunziza's bid for a third term led to an attempted coup in May.

A rebel movement has emerged vowing to oust Nkukunziza.