The United Nations and Burundi have been at an impasse ever since Burundi’s government rejected a 228 member strong UN police force to monitor security and human rights in the country but recent events seem to show the UN ready to take more decisive action.
New UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning the President of Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza, against seeking a fourth term. The UN Secretary-General cautions that such a move by the President would risk deepening the crisis that has already rocked the country.
The report where the UN secretary-general makes his warning clear was obtained by AFP and in it, the UN chief whip says that he is “very concerned” by recent statements by Nkurunziza which suggest the possibility of him seeking a fourth term in office.
President Nkurunziza who has been in power since 2005 is already in a widely challenged third term and gunning for a fourth term would require him making changes to the constitution.
Guterres wrote in the report he sent to the Security Council on Thursday that;
“An attempt by the president to seek a fourth term in office under the current circumstances would risk intensifying the crisis and undermining collective efforts to find a sustainable solution,”
The UN chief whip in referring to the crisis in Burundi is calling to mind all the violence that was triggered by President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office in April 2015.
President Nkurunziza won that election but hundreds lost their lives and about 387,000 people have fled the country. The UN refugee agency posits that the number could surpass 500,000 in 2017.
Antonio Guterres also expressed concern over the growing role of the ruling party’s youth militia, known as the Imbonerakure. He said that there have been over 200 cases of enforced disappearances since October which are “of particular concern.”
In his words, the youth militia “is contributing to a sense of insecurity and a climate of fear” and he also points out that the group is implicated in many cases of killings, arrests, disappearances, and some cases of sexual violence
The report which was sent to council members following the adoption of a resolution in July authorizing the deployment of the UN police force states some facts that can be easily described as evident. For Burundi’s Ambassador Albert Shingiro, the report can, however, only be described as “biased”.
Albert Shingiro also posits that the report is driven by UN envoy Jamal Benomar, whom he accused of “seeking revenge” after his government asked that he be replaced. Speaking to AFP, the ambassador said that it was “very surprising” that the UN Secretary-general had raised concerns about term limits for Nkurunziza “when many presidents in Africa and elsewhere are serving their fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh term without any concern being raised.”