UN considers Burundi sanctions as it condemns fatal violence

November 15, 2015, 7:18pm

By Michale Gunn, Bloomberg Business. Photo: AP

The United Nations Security Council condemned the growing number of killings and torture cases in Burundi and said it’s considering “additional measures” against anyone blocking a peaceful solution to the country’s six-month-old political crisis in which at least 240 people have died.

The council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday that also urged President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government and other parties to reject violence and protect human rights, the UN said on its website.

It called on his administration to cooperate with regional mediators and immediately convene an “inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue with all peaceful stakeholders” to find a “consensual and nationally owned solution.”

It requested that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deploy a team in Burundi that will coordinate with the government, African Union and others to “develop options for addressing political and security concerns.” Ban was asked to present options on the UN’s future presence in the country in 15 days.

Violence in the East African nation that holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves has forced more than 200,000 to flee their homes since Nkurunziza announced his bid for another term in April.

The unrest has raised the specter of another civil war, a decade after the end of an ethnic conflict between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi communities that left 300,000 people dead.

Opponents say Nkurunziza’s July re-election violates a two-term limit set out in peace accords that ended the 12-year conflict.

Burundi’s government“welcomes the relevant contents” of the UN resolution, it said Friday. Promoting dialogue has “always been part and parcel” of its plans, it said in a statement on its Twitter account.

Burundi’s former colonial ruler, Belgium, on Friday advised nationals on non-essential business in the country to leave “as normal conditions allow.”

Remarks “hostile to Belgium and threats to Belgian nationals” have been made over the past month as violence has worsened, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said on its website.