The African Union's peace and security council on Saturday recommended the organisation 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 finalise 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.
"(The Peace and Security Council) decides ... to impose targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze, against all the Burundian stakeholders whose actions and statements contribute to the perpetuation of violence ..."
The council called for the African Union's human rights body to investigate human rights abuses in Burundi and for a meeting of all parties involved to be held in either the Ugandan or Ethiopian capitals.
In the latest violence to hit Burundi, the bloodied body of a treasurer for the opposition MSD party, Charlotte Umugwaneza, was found dumped near a river outside the capital Bujumbura.
Her husband Déo Ndikumana said she had been abducted by unknown people on Friday and had been shot and stabbed.
Police were not immediately available to comment on the killing.
Ndikumana said his wife had fled to neighbouring Rwanda after being threatened for taking part in protests against Nkurunziza and had returned to Burundi after two months.
"There's no doubt she was killed for political motives," Ndikumana said.