Press Statement of the Security Council – Situation in Burundi
The members of the Security Council met on April 16 to discuss the situation in Burundi. They took note that the upcoming elections are an extremely sensitive issue that has the potential to spur violence and undermine the peace sustained for almost a decade in Burundi, in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement. The Security Council called on all parties to prioritize the preservation of Burundi’s fragile and hard-won peace. They welcomed the recent engagement by UN Secretary-General Ban, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President Kikwete, AU Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma, the United Nations Electoral Mission in Burundi (MENUB), the Burundi configuration of the Peace Building Commission, with Burundian authorities.
The members of the Security Council took note of the 15 April statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressing concern at the rising tensions and calling for the government and security forces to clamp down on the Imbonerakure group, for the opposition and its affiliated youth groups to play a constructive and peaceful role, and for all parties not to indulge in hate speech, react violently to provocations or feed the climate of fear.
The members of the Security Council stressed the need for the government and political opposition to refrain from any acts of violence and intimidation before, during, and after elections and to actively support the conditions for a peaceful, timely, credible and inclusive elections process. In this regard, they condemned the March 15 assassination attempt against the wife of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa. They also expressed concern with the impact of this situation on the region, including reports of increased Burundian refugee flows into Rwanda by persons who cited a fear of violence.
The members of the Security Council noted their intention to follow closely and to respond to any actions in Burundi that threaten the peace, security or stability of Burundi by actively facilitating violence, including by reportedly distributing weapons to youth groups.
They took note of Burundian government officials’ stated commitment to hold free, credible, peaceful and transparent elections according to the electoral calendar and called on them to make good on this commitment. They also recalled that during their March 13 visit to Burundi, many civil society organizations and members of the political opposition warned of the likelihood of elections-related violence should prudent actions not be taken or attempts to restrict political space continue and further recalled the necessity for all parties to abide by the non-violence charter of March 9, 2015.
They also called on all parties to address any elections-related concerns peacefully.