- The top UN envoy for Burundi today presented a strong-worded complaint to all parties to the conflict in the country. All had been involved in "summary executions, torture, sexual violence and arbitrary detentions" and the abuses were still going on on a daily basis.
Carolyn Mc Askie, the UN envoy for Burundi, today strongly denounced killings, torture and rape by all sides in the war-torn central African country since the arrival of the UN mission there in June and called on all parties to cease forthwith and observe a truce. "These acts are committed with total impunity," Ms Mc Askie added.
- Fighting continues almost on a daily basis, Ms Mc Askie said in a news release in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital. "During these clashes, international humanitarian law is being violated, even though Burundi has signed up to it," she added.
She noted that military and human rights observers had obtained conclusive evidence of the abuses which "are committed with total impunity" and denounced the "exploitation of people committed by all sides to the conflict for political and military gain."
Bujumbura Rural, the area around the capital, is a major focus of fighting between the rebel Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL), the government army and the Conseil National pour la Defense et la Democratie-Forces de Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD), the biggest armed rebel group, which last year reached a ceasefire with the government.
Ms Mc Askie called on all warring parties "to end the violence, to respect human and international humanitarian law and to observe a truce in order to create the necessary conditions for a total cessation of hostilities and for the protection of civilians" in the small country of some 6 million inhabitants.
The press release came just a day after the envoy made her first visit outside the capital to the country's second city of Gitega, where the first of four regional offices of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) has just opened.
Ms Mc Askie demonstrated modesty during her visit to Gitega. "ONUB and Burundians are partners and it is not for us to impose a solution," she said, hailing the 700 Ethiopian UN peacekeepers in the area as well two teams of military observers from eight different countries.
According to the UN, "ONUB is seeking to cement a multi-party, power-sharing government and pave the way to peace after more than a decade of civil war, culminating in free, transparent and peaceful elections."
Last week Ms Mc Askie attended a meeting in South Africa of 31 Burundian political parties on forming such a government. South Africa has and is playing a major role in Burundi's peace negotiations.
The FNL has still not joined in recent peace talks. According to a statement made by Ms Mc Askie yesterday, it is now a priority to reach an agreement between the Burundian transition government and these rebels.
Asked about international development aid for the impoverished country, she stressed that in the eyes of the international community Burundi was still a country at war and donors would be ready to come forward once the war ended.
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