Members of the Security Council today urged rebel groups in Burundi that have not signed the country's peace accord to lay down their arms and resume negotiations towards a ceasefire.
In a statement to the press following closed-door consultations, Council President Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon called on Burundian rebel movements to immediately suspend hostilities and refrain from any action that may jeopardize a return to stability in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Also on the wider region, Council members asked leaders there to continue working to settle the Burundi crisis and welcomed the recent visit to that country by the DRC Minister for Foreign Affairs and the adoption of a joint communiqué in Bujumbura. "They call on these two countries speedily to conclude a normalization and security cooperation agreement," President Belinga-Eboutou said.
Council members welcomed the signature of the ceasefire agreement between the Burundi Transitional Government and two rebel movements earlier this month in Dar es Salam, the President said, emphasizing that the Transitional Government must fully implement the provisions of the Arusha Agreement. "In this connection, they request the Transitional Government to begin work on the reform of the security forces, as progress is made towards the ceasefire," he added.
Ambassador Belinga-Eboutou reported that Council members "stand ready to study the type of contribution which the Council could make, when the time comes, to the continuation of the peace process."
The Government was encouraged to continue its fact-finding efforts concerning the Itaba massacre and to bring the perpetrators to justice, while ensuring respect for human rights in the country.
The statement also reaffirmed the members' full support for the Arusha Agreement process and for the action by South Africa, and paid tribute to the mediation of President Omar Bongo of Gabon and South African Vice-President Jacob Zuma, assisted by Tanzania's President, Benjamin Mkapa.
In addition, Council members welcomed the approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of an emergency post-conflict programme for Burundi, and called on all donors to mobilize support for Transitional Government.