United Nations – Key Western powers and the UN are discussing the possible deployment of international peacekeepers to Burundi if the violence in the African country spirals into full-scale ethnic conflict, a UN diplomat said.
The diplomat, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told newsmen on Thursday that “we anticipate unanimity,” while referring to a UN Security Council vote that would highlight options for boosting the bloc’s presence in Burundi.
At least 240 people have been killed and tens of thousands fled to neighbouring states during months of violence that begun when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April to run for a third term.- which he won in a disputed election in July.
The UN had on Monday said that Burundi could be facing imminent catastrophe with violence in danger of escalating to atrocities.
However, Burundi officials said the nation was “not in flames” and there should be no concerns about an impending genocide.
Meanwhile a UN peacekeeping spokesman said several options were being looked at as part of contingency planning, including the use of the nearly 20,000-strong UN mission in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
However, such deployment would need authorization from the 15-member Security Council under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which covers the council’s authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or military force, and approval from the troop contributing countries.
A second contingency option being considered would be to send in the East African Standby Force as a regional coalition would be well placed to provide a rapid and credible response if the situation in Burundi worsens.
It would be recalled that Burundi ended a 12-year civil war between Hutu rebels and a Tutsi-led army in 2005-it is the same ethnic divide that led to neighboring Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people – mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus – were massacred. (Reuters/NAN)