22 June 2017

Burundi: UNSC Expresses Concern About Continual Political Impasse in Burundi

Photo: Irin
Street in Bujumbura

The Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met on 20 June to discuss Burundi situation. They recommended the regional effort to help Burundi to find political solution and reiterated the support of the facilitation in the inter-Burundian dialogue.

Security in Burundi remains unstable, the socio-economic situation is deteriorating, and the recent decision by the Burundi authorities to set up a commission to propose the amendment to the constitution in the context of severe restrictions on civil liberties risks escalating the crisis, said on 20 June, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun.

In his presentation, Zerihoun reported grenade attacks in the capital in recent weeks, as well as repression and intimidation by the security forces and their related groups. Zerihoun also recalled that the National Commission for Inter-Burundian Dialogue (CNDI) had, on 12 May, concluded that a majority of Burundians supported the amendment to the Constitution which would make it possible to remove presidential term limits. "This report and the setting up of the commission to amend the Burundi Constitution were denounced by the opposition," according to Zerihoun.

Zerihoun also said that the economic and humanitarian situation is deteriorating. He reported 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and 2.6 million people facing acute food insecurity, while 700,000 depend on emergency food aid. He also reported over 400,000 refugees and 209,000 internally displaced persons. He noted, however, that the Burundian government has lifted certain restrictions on humanitarian access.

Switzerland proposes increase in number of international observers in Burundi

The Chairperson of the Burundi Formation of the Peace Building Commission (CCP), Jürg Lauber of Switzerland, speaking via videoconference from Geneva, considered that a greater presence of international observers in Burundi could greatly contribute to improving the human rights and security situation. He said 200 military and human rights observers from the African Union (AU) would eventually be deployed to support the thirty who are already on ground.

The Representative of Burundi to the United Nations, Albert Shingiro, said there is no more political crisis in Burundi. "Burundian authorities must now manage the political and economic consequences of the 2015 crisis," said Shingiro. However, he stressed that Burundi's relations with the United Nations and development partners should be strengthened while respecting the country's national sovereignty.

UN SC President, Sacha SergioLlorenttySolíz said the members of the UNSC recommended the regional effort to help Burundi to find political solution and reiterated the support for the inter-Burundian facilitation led by William Benjamin Mkapa. "The inter-Burundian dialogue promoted by the East African Community and endorsed by the African Union is the only process to sustainable political arrangement in Burundi," said Solíz.

He said the security situation in the country has remained generally calm.

However, the members of UNSC expressed their concern about the continual political impasse and worrying humanitarian situation in Burundi.

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