Diplomats from the United Nations Security Council are wrapping up a visit to crisis-torn Burundi, after meetings with top Government officials in the capital, Bujumbura, where they encouraged all parties to pursue an inclusive dialogue process that would help end months of political turmoil.
During the visit, the delegation met with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, and was also expected to meet the Foreign Minister, the President of the National Assembly and representatives of political parties, civil society and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Speaking to UN Radio after talks with the President Nkurunziza, Ambassador Ismael Gaspar Martins of Angola – who co-led the visit alongside United States Ambassador Samantha Power and deputy French Ambassador, Alexis Lamek – said the delegation had reviewed the security situation in the county as well as the proposal for mediation by the East African Community (EAC), led by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
“We also agreed that the Council should look at how it could support this mediation in order to produce the results that would lower current tensions in Burundi,” said Ambassador Gaspar Martins, adding that the Council delegation will next head to the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to brief officials there on the discussions that had been held in Bujumbura.
This Security Council's diplomatic push comes as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) last week warned that “alarming” new trends are emerging in Burundi, including cases of sexual violence by security forces and a sharp increase in enforced disappearances and torture cases. He also called for an urgent investigation into the events that took place in Bujumbura on 11 and 12 December, including the reported existence of at least nine mass graves.
“The 11 December attacks against three military camps and the large-scale human rights violations that occurred in their immediate aftermath appear to have triggered new and extremely disturbing patterns of violations,” said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release.
Burundi faced a serious political crisis since President Nkurunziza took the controversial decision to seek a third presidential term last year. Since then, hundreds of people have reportedly been killed. Some 220,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and thousands more have been displaced within the country.