Security Councils Central Africa peace mission arrives in Burundi

The mission, led France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière, reached the Burundian capital of Bujumbura from Bukavu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a town that was briefly seized in June by rebels in the latest outbreak of ethnic fighting, leading to a flood of refugees into Burundi.Mr. de La Sablière said the mission’s aim was to support the transition process in Burundi and the Council hoped to relay the message that elections scheduled for next year will be held as scheduled. In the meantime, it hopes that all the reforms envisaged in the peace agreements will be implemented, including the reconstruction and integration of the armed forces.Only yesterday, in his latest report on Burundi, Mr. Annan said that despite recent steady progress, major political and social tensions remained as the country tried to emerge from a decade of civil war, human rights violations were causing great concern and a strong international donor response was vital for future stability.He asked the Council to renew for another six months the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), set up in May to help cement a multi-party, power-sharing government and pave the way to peace in the small nation of some 6 million people torn asunder by ethnic conflicts between Hutus and Tutsis.While in Bukavu, Council members met with local political and military leaders, as well as with UN mission representatives to discuss the situation in eastern DRC, which remains tense following years of clashes between the Government and rebels in a conflict compounded by the ethnic dimension.Yesterday the mission held talks in the DRC capital of Kinshasa with President Joseph Kabila and on Sunday it visited Rwanda, scene of the Hutu extremist genocide against Tutsis and moderate Hutus, which claimed some 800,000 lives a decade ago and inflamed tensions in both the DRC and Burundi.

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