In a desperate effort to help Burundi find a way forward the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will dispatch a senior UN envoy to hold talks with government officials in the capital Bujumbura.
The UNSC made the decision after Bujumbura rejected a UNSC resolution to establish a police officers’ component in the country and amid reports that it intends to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Briefing reporters on Thursday after closed-door consultations with the Security Council, Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention including Burundi, said he had discussed implementation of its resolution 2303 (2016), which authorised up to 228 UN individual police officers for the component, to be deployed in Bujumbura, and throughout Burundi, for one year.
Through that measure, adopted by 11 votes in favour to none against with four abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Venezuela), the Council also expressed “its intention to pursue targeted measures against all actors, inside and outside Burundi, who threaten the peace and security of Burundi.”
“As you are aware, the Government of Burundi rejected key provisions of the resolution shortly after it was adopted,” said Benomar, explaining that Council members requested that he travel to the country in order to consult with the government, “to hear their positions and concerns, to share the views of the Council, and to clarify our objectives.”
Stressing that he will endeavour to consult constructively with the government in order to work towards a consensual way forward, he stated: “What started as a political crisis can only be resolved by a political solution.”
Benomar said Burundians proved this themselves a decade ago, when they emerged from a long civil war that saw hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced.
“With the support of the region and the international community, Burundian stakeholders worked together then to come to an agreement that provided a sound framework for a stable future.”
In the years that followed, Burundi made important strides towards peace and development. As an important contributor to UN and African Union peacekeeping troops, Burundi itself helped other countries to find stability, he noted.
More than a quarter of a million Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries since April 25, 2015, most of them to Tanzania.
“Burundi’s future rests in Burundi’s hands. I am confident that with political will and leadership, the Burundians can find a way out of this crisis through dialogue and compromise,” Benomar said.
Responding to questions, including whether he would raise the issue of the country’s reported decision to suspend cooperation with UN human rights officials and also to withdraw from the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, Benomar said he hoped to discuss all issues on the table.
“What we need is a renewed engagement with the government with a view to clarifying the objectives of the resolution and finding a way forward all issues related to peace and security and UN activities in the country.”