President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi had portrayed an optimistic and positive picture of recent developments in his country, while the radical opposition camp had expressed concern that “genocide was in the making”, France’s representative told the Security Council today during a briefing on its visiting mission to Burundi and Ethiopia from 21 to 23 January.
François Delattre (France) said it was the Council’s second visit to Burundi in less than a year and indicated its grave concern about the situation there. France, Egypt, United States and Angola had led the three-day mission, guided by Council decisions, including resolution 2248 (2015) as well as presidential and press statements, he added.
The meeting with President Nkurunziza had taken place at his presidential facility in Gitega, he said, noting that after hearing messages from Council members, the President had put an optimistic spin on recent developments and reiterated his opposition to any external interference, particularly by the African Union. President Nkurunziza had also said that he stood ready to maintain good relations with the United Nations.
Council members had also met with former Burundian officials, including two ex-presidents, who had stressed the importance of full compliance with the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 1998, he continued. They had been briefed by a representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), who had cited adverse developments on the human rights front and stressed the need for protection. Members of independent media organizations had noted the difficult conditions in which they operated, he said, adding that the visiting mission had also met with the Foreign Minister and members of opposition parties.
Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Delattre emphasized the need for inclusive national dialogue, urging all parties to put an end to violence, using the Arusha accord as a compass. He also called for the immediate release of a French journalist and a British photographer being held in custody.
Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), briefing on the second leg of the visit, said the visiting mission had held an informal dialogue with their counterparts of the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa. The delegation had also been briefed by Haile Menkerios, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union.
On Burundi, he said that many participants had stressed the urgent need to address the situation and pre-empt any possibility of a further deterioration. They had called for concerted efforts by all regional and international partners, agreeing that priority must be accorded to restoring security and initiating genuine and inclusive national dialogue. They had also pledged support for the regional mediation efforts led by Uganda on behalf of the East African Community, but expressed concern over the slow progress.
He said discussions had also turned to the envisaged deployment of 100 African Union human rights and military observers in Burundi, noting that several members of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council had called for the United Nations Security Council’s adoption of a Chapter VII resolution authorizing the deployment of an African prevention and protection mission in the country. Several others had felt that deploying such a mission without the Burundi Government’s consent would be counter-productive. The African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on 29 January would represent a crucial venue for generating a regional political strategy that the Security Council would be able to support, he said.
Turning to Somalia, he said members of the two Councils had heard presentations by the representatives of the United Kingdom and Ethiopia, who had stressed the need to hold transparent and credible elections in 2016, which would require agreement on an election model without further delay. They had also raised concerns over the continued threat posed by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group to peace and security in the region.
Today’s meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:27 a.m.