UN Security council set to vote on police presence in Burundi

The UN Security Council could vote as early as Friday on a French-drafted resolution that would lay the groundwork for a UN police presence to help quell violence in Burundi, diplomats said.

The draft resolution requests that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hold talks with the Burundian government and the African Union on the proposed international presence and present options to the Security Council within 15 days.

The text, obtained by AFP on Thursday, provides for the “deployment of a United Nations police contribution to increase the United Nations capacity to monitor the security situation, promote the respect of human rights and advance rule of law” in Burundi.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

The violence has left more than 400 dead, driven over 240,000 people across the border and fueled fears of mass atrocities in the country.

At a council meeting last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said reports of torture were on the rise since the beginning of the year and that people there “live in terror.”

A recent visit by UN rights officials to detention centers in the capital Bujumbura found that almost half of detainees had been tortured or ill-treated, some seriously, he said.

After days of negotiations on the draft resolution, France late Thursday reached agreement on a final text and asked for a Security Council vote on the measure for Friday, diplomats said.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev told reporters that he was ready to support the text, if it contained clear provisions on consulting the Burundian government.

Iliichev said he envisaged a small deployment of fewer than 100 police officers who could help Burundi ensure its security forces respect human rights standards.

The draft resolution also calls on the United Nations to strengthen its efforts in Burundi by beefing up the team of envoy Jamal Benomar.

It urges the government of Burundi and all parties to “reject any kind of violence and condemn any public statement inciting violence or hatred”.

During a visit by Security Council ambassadors to Burundi in January, Nkurunziza dismissed concerns that his country could slide into ethnic killings, similar to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Burundi has the same Hutu-Tutsi mix as Rwanda.

 

– AFP

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