The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted a resolution that allows the deployment of unarmed UN police to Burundi in a bid to help contain the escalating unrest gripping the landlocked African country.
The 15-member council unanimously passed the French-drafted motion on Friday after days of tough negotiations over its wording.
The resolution asks UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to draw up within 15 days a list of options for the proposed police force in coordination with the African Union and consultations with the Burundian government.
It provides for the “deployment of a United Nations police contribution to increase the United Nations capacity to monitor the security situation, promote the respect of human rights and advance rule of law” in the violence-wracked state.
The resolution further expresses concerns about “the persisting political impasse” in Burundi and underlines the need for convening “a genuine and inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue.”
The African country plunged into turmoil last April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to run for a third consecutive five-year term, a move that was denounced by opponents as contrary to the constitution and a 2006 peace deal that ended years of civil war.
Nkurunziza did win the third term, garnering 70 percent of the 2.8 million votes cast in the election last July. Widespread unrest and a failed coup preceded the election, however.
At least 400 people have been killed and 250,000 others have fled Burundi due to the unrest over the past year.
Referring to the UNSC-adopted resolution, France’s UN ambassador Francois Delattre said, “This resolution is a first step towards a strengthened UN presence in Burundi to help ensure the respect for human rights and alert the international community on the reality of the situation on the ground.”
He said that between 20 and 30 police forces are expected to be deployed to Burundi as unarmed “experts and observers.”
Burundi’s UN envoy Albert Shingiro voiced his government’s readiness “to discuss and to come to an agreement on the nature, the size and the missions” of the UN police force.