Deeply concerned at the widespread purchase and use of weapons by Burundians and at reported statements calling for the arming of civilians, the Security Council this afternoon called on all Burundians to renounce the use of violence and engage in a comprehensive dialogue to ensure a peaceful future.
Through a statement read out by its President, Juan Somavia (Chile), the Council urged the authorities and all parties in Burundi to demonstrate the necessary unity and political will to settle the conflict peacefully. It condemned all acts of violence and expressed deep concern, in particular, at the laying of land-mines.
The Council was deeply concerned at the recent degeneration of security conditions and political cooperation in the country. It stated that the dramatic increase in violence had already severely inhibited humanitarian aid and could have a negative effect on donors' capacity to implement development assistance.
In view of the current situation, the Council asked the Secretary- General to expedite consultations with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and concerned Member States on contingency planning, as appropriate. Such talks would focus both on supporting a comprehensive dialogue, as well as on a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
The Council extended its full support for efforts by the Secretary- General's Special Representative, former President Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania, and other envoys to facilitate negotiations to end the current crisis. It looked forward to the recommendations to be submitted by the Secretary-General on progress towards commencement of the national debate and other initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and national reconciliation.
Text of President Statement
The statement, which will be issued as document S/1996/21, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has taken note of the letter dated 12 April 1996 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council on the present situation in Burundi (S/1996/313), in response to the request to the Secretary-General in resolution 1049 (1996) to keep the Council informed on the situation.
"The Security Council is deeply concerned at the recent degeneration of security conditions and political cooperation in Burundi. The Council condemns all acts of violence. The Council is equally concerned at reported statements calling for the arming of civilians which could lead to grave consequences. The dramatic increase in violence throughout the country already severely inhibits humanitarian aid and could have a negative effect on the donors' capacity to implement development assistance in support of the search by the people of Burundi for reconciliation and rehabilitation.
"The Security Council urges the authorities and all parties in Burundi to set aside their differences and demonstrate the necessary cohesion, unity and political will for settlement of the conflict by peaceful means. The Council calls upon all Burundians to renounce the use of violence and to engage in a comprehensive dialogue to ensure a peaceful future for the people of Burundi.
"The Security Council is deeply concerned at the widespread purchase and use of weapons by Burundians, in particular the laying of land-mines.
"The Security Council looks forward to the recommendations of the Secretary-General in the report which it requested by 1 May 1996 on the progress towards commencement of the National Debate and other initiatives for comprehensive political dialogue and national reconciliation. The Council extends its full support for and confidence in the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and those of former President Nyerere and other envoys to facilitate negotiations to resolve the present crisis.
"The Security Council requests the Secretary-General, in accordance with paragraph 13 of resolution 1049 (1996), to expedite consultations with Member States concerned and the Organization of African Unity, as appropriate, on contingency planning both for the steps that might be taken to support a comprehensive dialogue and for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Burundi.
"The Security Council underlines its commitment to follow events in Burundi closely and resolves to consider further all relevant options for an appropriate response by the international community upon receipt of the impending report of the Secretary-General."
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6213 3659th Meeting (PM) 25 April 1996
The meeting, which was called to order at 12:31 p.m., was adjourned at 12:37 p.m.
Letter from Secretary-General
"I fear that there is a real danger of the situation in Burundi degenerating to the point where it might erupt into a genocidal conflict", the Secretary-General states in a 4 April letter to the President of the Council (document S/1996/313). In that letter, he passes on the "alarming information" received from his Special Representative.
According to the Secretary-General, the security situation in Burundi took another turn for the worse during March. There was a sharp increase in the number of attacks by Hutu rebels. Heavy fighting, formerly concentrated in the northern part of the country, had spread to areas in the south which had been untouched by conflict. It was estimated that there might now be a few thousand rebels in that part of the country. Meanwhile, the interruption of fishing in Lake Tanganyika -- causing supply problems in the capital -- demonstrated the determination of the armed forces to stop the movement of rebels to and from Zaire.
Serious differences had appeared between the President and the Prime Minister regarding negotiations with the armed opposition, the report states. While the President favours negotiations if the rebels give up violence, the Prime Minister has opposed any negotiations and invited the Tutsi community to arm itself. According to reports, arms have recently been distributed to civilians in Bujumbura and elsewhere. The situation has deteriorated to the point that senior parliamentarians have expressed concern that the armed forces might engage in reprisals against the Hutu population still living in Bujumbura and its suburbs.
The Secretary-General cites the latest report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, which speaks of a "creeping genocide". The ongoing effort of Tanzania's former President Julius Nyerere are taking place in a very tense environment and it will soon be known whether there is any chance of starting the envisaged dialogue. The European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have stressed to Burundi's leadership that economic assistance would not be forthcoming while the political and security situations remain unstable. In response, the Prime Minister has disclaimed Burundi's need for foreign aid.
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