The ambassadors of the UN Security Council who met Friday with the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza have acknowledged that there had been little progress on the deployment of an African force and a resumption of talks with opponents.
The discussions “have not been as productive, frankly, that we would have liked,” said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, yet “there’s a real cry from the heart of many people in Burundi for an urgent external assistance in order to mediate a solution.”
The 15-member council, which arrived in Burundi’s lakeside capital Bujumbura on Thursday, met with President Pierre Nkurunziza in Gitega for more than two hours. It is the council’s second visit to Burundi in less than a year.
In this meeting, we did not achieve as much, frankly, as I think we would have liked. But we never give up, the cause of peace in Burundi is too important to give up.
“I’m here to guarantee that there will not ever be another genocide in Burundi,” Nkurunziza told the council.
The talks came a day after rebels in the African state raised the stakes in the crisis by declaring a General who led a failed coup in May as their leader, deepening concerns that Burundi is sliding back into conflict after its ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005.
Power made clear that the council wants to see more dialogue and an enhanced U.N. presence in Burundi.
“None of us want the situation in Burundi to deteriorate, we’re here because we want to support efforts at dialogue, because we believe as a council that a more substantial international presence here can help, we conveyed those points to the president,” Power told reporters after the meeting.
“In this meeting we did not achieve as much, frankly, as I think we would have liked. But we never give up, the cause of peace in Burundi is too important to give up,” she said.
Nkurunziza’s re-election for a third term sparked the crisis, which has raised fears of an ethnic conflict in a region where memories of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide remain fresh.