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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Burundi seeks to replace UN envoy after crisis talks

Pierre Nkurunziza. (File: AFP)
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 empty-handed 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 adviser continues his work as mandated by the UN Security Council and with the full confidence of the secretary-general," Haq said.

Broad consultations

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 secretary-generals 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.

Human rights abuses

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.

Source: news24.com

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