The African Union's peace and security council on Saturday recommended the organization hasten plans for sending troops to Burundi if violence in the central African nation worsens and called for investigations into rights abuses there.
The council also said the union would impose sanctions against anyone who incited further violence in Burundi.
Burundi has suffered months of violent turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April he would seek a third term, a move that triggered protests and a failed coup. The opposition said the president's decision violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005.
Nkurunziza won the July 21 election that was boycotted by his opponents. In recent weeks Burundi has seen increased shootings and grenade attacks targeting top government officials and members of the opposition.
"(The Peace and Security Council) requests the Commission ... to expedite and finalize the contingency planning ... for the purposes of the deployment in Burundi, should the situation so require, of an African-led Mission to prevent widespread violence in the country," the council said in a statement.