UN backs tougher African Union stance on Burundi

The UN Security Council on Wednesday backed an African Union decision to investigate human rights abuses in Burundi, and said it too was ready to take action over the continuing violence.

The 15-member council said in a unanimous statement that it was deeply concerned by the continued rise in violence in Burundi following the re-election of leader Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi has been sliding towards chaos since Nkurunziza announced in April that he would run for a third term, a move branded as unconstitutional by the opposition.

Some 200 people have been killed in the violence and 200,000 have fled the country, raising fears of a return to all-out war.

The African Union this month launched an investigation into rights violations, and called for travel bans and asset freezes on individuals found to be fuelling the violence.

The Security Council welcomed the probe and expressed “its intention to follow closely and respond to any actions that threaten the peace, security and stability of Burundi.”

Council members urged Burundian authorities to enter into a dialogue with the opposition and regional players “in order to find a consensual and nationally-owned solution to the current crisis.”

The adoption of the French-drafted statement followed some negotiations with Russia and China, which have maintained that the Burundi crisis is an internal matter and have resisted appeals for sanctions.

France and Britain have raised alarm over the deteriorating situation, with British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft warning last week of a “threat of genocide” in Burundi.

“The escalation of violence in Burundi is very worrisome,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre.

“The violence threatens to spread if left unchecked,” he said.

Delattre said the Security Council statement is a “strong message to all sides in Burundi” to pull back from the brink and enter into dialogue.

SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN