UN sends envoy to Burundi for crisis talks


United Nations (United States) (AFP)

The UN Security Council on Thursday decided to dispatch a UN envoy to Burundi after the government in Bujumbura broke off ties with UN rights monitors and kept up resistance to the deployment of a UN police force.

UN envoy Jamal Benomar will travel to Bujumbura next week for the crisis talks.

"What we need is a renewed engagement with the government," Benomar told reporters following a closed-door meeting of the council.

During the talks, the envoy said he would "clarify the objective of resolution 2303" authorizing the deployment of 228 UN police to monitor security and "see whether we can find a way forward."

Burundi has said it will accept only a few dozen UN police on its territory, defying the resolution adopted in July.

The visit comes at a time of mounting tensions between the United Nations and Burundi, which this week decided to suspend cooperation with UN rights monitors and pull out of the International Criminal Court.

President Pierre Nkurunziza's government reacted angrily to a report by UN rights experts that blamed state police and security forces for the violence that has torn apart the country since April 2015.

More than 500 people have been killed and at least 300,000 have fled the country since the crisis began over Nkurunziza's bid to run for a third term in office, which he went on to win.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the council will show its "clear support to Benomar before he goes to Bujumbura."

The envoy, however, declined to say whether he will raise the possibility of sanctions or other measures against the government if it continues to obstruct the United Nations.

The resolution adopted by the council in July provides for "targeted measures against all actors, inside and outside Burundi, who threaten peace and security."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged Burundi to reverse its decision to break ties with the UN rights office and said the decision to pull out of the ICC was "regrettable."