Burundi: Security Council members concerned over reported coup

18 April 2001

Members of the United Nations Security Council today followed with concern reports of a coup in Burundi, according to the body's current President.

"I intervened during the course of the morning to report on at least reports of events in Bujumbura," Council President Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom said in response to questions from the press during a break in the Council's closed-door consultations. "Members of the Council were very concerned to hear those reports."

The President noted that the Council had recently called for the parties to "turn away from violence and to deal through dialogue with the implementation of the Arusha agreement."

On 12 April, Council members called on the signatories to the Arusha peace agreement to refrain from any action that might compromise the progress already made, and might contribute to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground which Ambassador Greenstock had characterized at the time as "quite worrying."

The Arusha Peace agreement, originally signed last August, addresses the root causes of the conflict, such as exclusion and genocide, as well as the tragic consequences of the war, including the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people.

Offering preliminary details of the reported coup, a UN spokesman told reporters in New York at noon that "we know that a lieutenant claiming to represent a group of heretofore unknown officers called 'the Patriot Youth' announced on the radio in Bujumbura that a coup had taken place."

The UN staff contacted in Burundi reported that "the atmosphere on the street in Bujumbura is calm at the moment," Spokesman Fred Eckhard added.

There are approximately 500 people working for the UN in Burundi, including some 100 international staff. "Everyone will be hunkering down and waiting to see how this turns out," Mr. Eckhard observed.

 

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