Expressing its grave concern at recent information on political developments in Burundi, the Security Council this afternoon strongly condemned any attempt to overthrow the present legitimate Government by force or coup d'état.
In a statement read by its President, Alain Dejammet (France), the Council also condemned the massacre of civilians, including more than 300 women, children and elderly men in the Bugendana commune in Gitega province. It requested the Burundi authorities to properly investigate the massacre and urged all parties to exercise restraint. All parties to the conflict were called upon to stop immediately any acts of violence and to cooperate fully with those trying to end the vicious cycle of violence.
The Council again urged the authorities and all parties concerned to set aside their differences, renounce the use of force and show a firm political will for promptly settling the conflict.
Stressing its full support for the efforts of the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, including the 25 June Arusha Regional Summit agreements, the Council expressed support for the Summit's acceptance of the Burundi Government's request for security assistance to complement the Mwanza peace talks initiated by Mr. Nyerere and create a conducive security atmosphere for all parties to freely take part in the Mwanza process. Encouraging all parties to work constructively with Mr. Nyerere, it urged Burundi's Government to permit the International Technical Committee established at the Summit to enter the country to work out the logistics of the regional peace plan.
Welcoming the full support of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for the Summit's agreements, the Council emphasized the importance of continued United Nations cooperation with OAU, the European Union, the United States and other interested parties, in coordination with Mr. Nyerere, with
the aim of achieving a comprehensive political dialogue between the parties in Burundi. In that regard, it expressed support for the efforts of the OAU and its Observation Mission in Burundi and welcomed the extension of the Mission's mandate.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, the Council deplored the recent forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees from camps in Kibezi and Ruvumu. It called on Burundi's Government to honour its obligations under the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees and desist from further refoulement of refugees. All parties were urged by the Council to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure that the rights of refugees were respected and the international community was called upon to respond favourably to the agency's appeal to fund its activities in the region.
Reiterating the importance of contingency planning and in the light of recent developments, the Council requested the Secretary-General and Member States concerned to continue facilitating such planning for a rapid humanitarian response should there be widespread violence or a serious deterioration in Burundi's humanitarian situation.
The Security Council was informed of the massacre of 300 victims in a 22 July letter from Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (document S/1996/591). In that letter he states that he has no independent information on the crime's perpetrator. While the Burundi authorities claim that the dead were Tutsis killed by Hutu rebels of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD), the CNDD has denied it, claiming that they were actually Hutus killed by Burundi's army.
The Secretary-General adds life in Bujumbura ground to a halt after former President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, currently president of the Parti pour le Redressement National, called for a two-day strike to protest the killings and the Arusha "security assistance" plan. Mr. Bagaza has reportedly called for the overthrow of the Government, which he accused of high treason, and for a patriotic front to defend Burundi's sovereignty. The latter reaction reflects a common sentiment among the Burundi security forces and the CNDD. Both conflicting groups have rejected the idea of an international peace- keeping force in Burundi and vowed to fight it. As a result, the International Technical Committee, established at the Arusha Summit, has not been allowed into the country. The Burundi National Security Council itself was unable last week to decide on the deployment and mandate of possible troop contingents, or on alternative options to the peace plan.
Rumours of an impending coup d'état are widespread, while demonstrations in Bujumbura have become increasingly militant, according to the Secretary- General. He stresses the need for the international community to immediately
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take action to halt the cycle of violence and to continue contingency planning for a multinational force to prevent another catastrophe in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.
At the outset of the meeting, the Council expressed deep sympathy to the Government and people of the United States and the governments and people of other countries whose citizens lost their lives in the crash of TWA Flight 800.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:21 p.m., was adjourned at 3:29 p.m.
Text of Presidential Statement
The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/31, reads as follows:
"The Security Council is gravely concerned at recent information on political developments in Burundi. It strongly condemns any attempt to overthrow the present legitimate Government by force or coup d'etat
"The Security Council takes note of the letter dated 22 July 1996 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council (document S/1996/591). The Council condemns the massacre of civilians including that of more than 300 women, children, and elderly men in Bugendana commune in Gitega province. The Council calls upon all parties to the conflict in Burundi to cease immediately any acts of violence and to cooperate fully with all those who are seeking to bring an end to the vicious cycle of violence. The Council urges all parties to exercise restraint and requests the Burundi authorities to conduct a proper investigation of the massacre.
"The Security Council once again urges the authorities and all parties concerned in Burundi to set aside their differences, renounce the use of force and demonstrate a firm political will for the prompt settlement of the conflict.
"The Security Council deplores the recent forced repatriation of Rwandan refugees from refugee camps in Kibezi and Ruvumu and calls upon the Government of Burundi to honour its obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951, and to desist from further refoulement of refugees. The Council is also concerned at reports of Rwandan cooperation in the forced repatriation process.
"The Security Council supports the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and urges all parties to work with UNHCR to endure that the rights of refugees are respected. The Council calls upon the
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international community to respond favourably to the recent appeal to fund their activities in the region.
"The Security Council stresses its full support for the efforts of former President Nyerere including the agreements of the Arusha Regional Summit of 25 June 1996 (document S/1996/557), and welcomes the full support of the Organization of African Unity for these agreements. The Council supports also the acceptance by the Arusha Regional Summit of the request by the Government of Burundi for security assistance in order to complement and reinforce the Mwanza peace talks as well as for creating conducive security conditions for all parties to participate freely in the Mwanza process. The Council encourages all parties to work in a constructive manner with former President Nyerere. It urges the Government of Burundi to grant permission to the International Technical Committee, established at the Arusha Summit, to enter the country in order to work out the logistics of the regional peace plan.
"The Security Council emphasizes the importance of the continued cooperation of the United Nations with the OAU, the European Union, the United States and other interested countries and organizations in coordination with former President Nyerere, aimed at achieving a comprehensive political dialogue between the parties in Burundi. In this regard, the Council expresses its support for the efforts of the OAU and its observer mission (MIOB) and welcomes the extension of the mandate of MIOB.
"The Security Council reiterates the importance it attaches to the contingency planning called for in paragraph 13 of resolution 1049 (1996), and notes the consultations which have already taken place. In the light of recent developments, it requests the Secretary-General and Member States concerned to continue to facilitate contingency planning for a rapid humanitarian response in the event of widespread violence or a serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Burundi.
"The Security Council reminds all Burundian parties of their responsibilities for restoring peace and stability in Burundi, and underlines its commitment to follow events in Burundi closely and recalls its readiness, as set out in resolution 1050 (1996), to consider the adoption of further measures should the parties fail to demonstrate the necessary political will for a peaceful solution to the crisis. The Council will remain seized of the matter."
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