Bu­rundi seeks to re­place UN en­voy af­ter cri­sis talks

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide -

NEW YORK — Bu­rundi’s pres­i­dent has asked the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon to ap­point a new en­voy less than two weeks af­ter the emis­sary re­turned from cri­sis talks in Bu­jum­bura, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter seen by AFP on Mon­day.

Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza said in the let­ter sent last week that Ban and in­com­ing Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res should be­gin con­sul­ta­tions on choos­ing a suc­ces­sor to Bri­tish diplo­mat Ja­mal Beno­mar.

Last week, Beno­mar re­turned emp­ty­handed from talks on the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend ties with UN rights mon­i­tors and its re­fusal to al­low the de­ploy­ment of a UN po­lice force.

The UN spokesper­son Farhan Haq in­di­cated that there would be no search for a new en­voy.

“The spe­cial ad­vi­sor con­tin­ues his work as man­dated by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and with the full con­fi­dence of the sec­re­tary-gen­eral,” Haq said.

Re­la­tions be­tween Bu­rundi and the United Na­tions nose­dived af­ter a re­port by UN rights ex­perts in Septem­ber blamed state po­lice and se­cu­rity forces for the vi­o­lence that has torn apart the coun­try since April 2015.

The gov­ern­ment re­sponded by break­ing off ties with the UN rights of­fice while the par­lia­ment voted to pull out of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court, which is al­ready in­ves­ti­gat­ing se­ri­ous crimes in Bu­rundi.

Bu­rundi’s am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions said the re­quest was linked to the change in lead­er­ship at the world body, where Guter­res will take over as UN chief on Jan­uary 1. “Dur­ing this tran­si­tion pe­riod be­tween the two sec­re­tary-gen­er­als, Bu­rundi would not want to be caught off guard by the ap­point­ment of a new en­voy,” said Am­bas­sador Al­bert Shin­giro.

“Bu­rundi would like there to be broad con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the gov­ern­ment of Bu­rundi and the two sec­re­tary­gen­er­als to con­sider a suc­ces­sor,” Shin­giro told AFP.

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

More than 500 peo­ple have been killed and at least 300 000 have fled the coun­try.

Beno­mar was ap­pointed in Novem­ber last year to try to push the gov­ern­ment into hold­ing talks with the op­po­si­tion and to agree to the de­ploy­ment of 228 UN po­lice to mon­i­tor se­cu­rity and hu­man rights abuses.

Bu­rundi had ini­tially said it was ready to ac­cept only a few dozen UN po­lice on its ter­ri­tory, but it now main­tains that African Union ob­servers can take on the mon­i­tor­ing role.

Tan­za­nia’s for­mer pres­i­dent Ben­jamin Mpaka has been ap­pointed by the African Union as a peace me­di­a­tor, but the gov­ern­ment has yet to agree to talks with the op­po­si­tion.

A pre­vi­ous UN en­voy, Said Djin­nit, re­signed in June 2015 amid ac­cu­sa­tions that he was bi­ased in fa­vor of the gov­ern­ment. — AFP

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