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In Burundi, Torture and Children Jailed, Still No UN Envoy Amid UNGA Speeches

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 28 -- As in Burundi the crackdown on those opposing or even questioning the third term for Pierre Nkurunziza continues,  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has yet to name a replacement for its last envoy Bathily, rejected by Pierre Nkurunziza.

 On September 25 at the UN, Ban met not with Nkurunziza but his second vice president; he has not scheduled any High Level meeting on Burundi during this week's General Assembly debate, unlike on other countries.

  On September 28, UN High Commission for Human Rights Zeid issued this:

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday reported an alarming upsurge in arrests, detention and killings in Burundi since the beginning of September.

“Almost every day, dead bodies are found lying on the streets of some of Bujumbura’s neighbourhoods. In many cases, the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range. The bodies sometimes show signs of torture and are typically found with their hands tied behind their backs,” Zeid said.

“Reports suggest that many of these people had been arrested by the police or by the National Intelligence Agency (SNR) prior to their deaths. This succession of unexplained killings, and the widespread perception that they may be linked to State institutions, is instilling a deep sense of fear within the population, especially in neighbourhoods known to be supportive of the opposition,” he added.

Since April 2015, the UN Human Rights Office has registered 134 killings as well as hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, including 704 arrests since the beginning of September alone. In many cases, people are released after a few days. However, others sometimes stay in pre-trial detention for months on end, far beyond the maximum duration allowed by national and international law.

“We have seen an intensification of search operations allegedly aimed at seizing illegal weapons, in specific neighbourhoods of Bujumbura and in other parts of the country,” the High Commissioner said. “Young adults seem to be particularly targeted, with many of them alleging they were accused by the authorities of intending to join rebel groups based in neighbouring countries.”

“In Bujumbura, the police often surround a specific neighbourhood, blocking all entry and exit points while they carry out their searches. Given these searches sometimes continue for several days, this method raises serious concerns with regard to freedom of movement,” Zeid said. Consistent accusations of looting and destruction of property by police during such search operations have been received from diverse sources.

“My Office has documented more than 90 cases of torture since April 2015,” Zeid said. “We have also been receiving many allegations of torture carried out by the police or the SNR, with the reported aim of forcing victims to confess to participation in an armed rebellion. The perpetrators of both torture and killings appear, to date, to have enjoyed absolute impunity.”

“Because crimes as serious as extrajudicial executions and torture are going unpunished, more people are looking to take the law into their own hands. There is an increasing risk that spiralling tit-for-tat violence will plunge the country back into its bloody past,” Zeid said, noting that his team in Burundi has documented incidents of targeted attacks on members of the opposition and civil society on one hand, as well on members and supporters of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, their families, high-level Government officials and military leaders on the other.

The large number of arrests has resulted in overcrowding and deteriorating living conditions in prisons. Mid-September, some 87 civilians illegally detained in Mabanda military camp in Makamba province were finally either released or transferred to a regular prison, following advocacy efforts by the UN Human Rights Office team on the ground.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern at the situation of 52 minors who are detained alongside adults during the day in Rumonge Central Prison. He urged the Burundian authorities to transfer them to a nearby re-education centre for children.

Zeid also noted that the security situation negatively affects the daily lives of ordinary citizens, especially when it comes to their rights to education and health, and has further weakened the country’s already fragile economy. Many business have closed down or have been operating at a reduced pace. 

Zeid stressed the importance of the ongoing cooperation with the Burundian authorities and urged them to fight against impunity. "


Inner City Press on September 15 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: on Burundi, today the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff had said that, unless something is done, that… that things will spiral out of control.  It's harkened to all the language of Rights Up Front.  So I wonder, where does it stand with the Secretary-General, sending an envoy or doing something…  [crosstalk]

Spokesman Dujarric:  The discussions on appointing a person are still ongoing.  Obviously, despite that appointment, without that appointment, we continue to watch the situation very closely with the staff on the ground and the human rights staff, and I think we would share at lot of concerns expressed by the Special Rapporteur.

 But why then no action? Watch this site.

  Back on August 28, after the Security Council's last session about Burundi, Inner City Press asked Alexis Lamek as Deputy Permanent Representative of France, the Security Council's penholder on Burundi, what had come out of the meeting.

  Lamek told Inner City Press, "We discussed the issue, let's see, we seek close contact with the Burundians, to accompany the process...".

Inner City Press asked, "Any talk of the new UN Envoy?"

  Lamek told Inner City Press, "It's in the air."

 Then he found the door from the Security Council closed - metaphorically or not. We appreciated his answer. But an envoy was called imminent more than two weeks previous, and such quiet Security Council meetings may not help.

  Later on August 28, in response to Inner City Press' questions, Ban's spokesperson's office sent this to Inner City Press:

"On Burundi, consultations are still ongoing with Burundian authorities and relevant member states on the potential appointment of a high-level representative to assist in the ongoing regional efforts on Burundi, including on what assistance would be most appropriate. The Secretary-General spoke to President Museveni and AU Chairperson Zuma in a joint teleconference on 3 August where they all agreed to work together to find a solution to the political crisis in Burundi.  During the teleconference, he offered United Nations support  to the sub-regional initiative, which has also been encouraged by the members of the Security Council.  The Secretariat has been exchanging views with Ugandan authorities on how best the UN could assist."

 Note that after Ban's August 3 conversation with Museveni, in Juba Museveni advised Salva Kiir to get the UN out of his country, saying it preserves terrorism. Still, no UN envoy to Burundi.

On August 24, Inner City Press asked the UN in writing: "It is said that Burundi police or security forces are to be deployed to MINUSMA in Mali. Please confirm or deny, and if confirm, state what screening would be in place given recent events in Burundi. Also, what is the UN's response to Amnesty International's report of Burundi security forces using torture?" More than a day passed before an answer, see below.

  At 5 pm on August 25 came this UN response: "There are currently no Military troops from Burundi in the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA). As of 31 July, there were 14 Police officers from Burundi serving as individual police officers in MINUSMA police component. No deployment of Burundi police officers to MINUSMA is planned for the foreseeable future. Following reports alleging human rights abuses on the part of some elements of the Burundian police, a decision has been taken to suspend the deployment of Burundian police officers to peacekeeping missions."

  While appreciated, if deployment has been "suspended," are the 14 Burundian police still in Mali? If so, for how long?

Update: Inner City Press asked, and on August 26 the UN told Inner City Press, "On the 14 Burundian police officers, they will be rotated out of MINUSMA in the coming months according to the end of their respective terms (this rotation will be completed by March 2016)."

 On August 20, Inner City Press asked the UN if any of its officials attended Nkurunziza's inauguration. Yes, it was told, from the UN Country Team.

 On August 21, Inner City Press asked more, video here:

Inner City Press: In Burundi, tomorrow is the funeral of the general that was assassinated.  Many people are saying it could be a very dangerous time, given the youth wing of the ruling party, etc.  Is it true that the UN has told its personnel in Burundi not to go downtown tomorrow?  And, two, where does it stand on the envoy that was said to be imminent some 10 days ago?

Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko:  On security arrangements, as you know, we can’t talk about that, but on any potential envoy from the UN side, we remain in close contact with the Burundian authorities, Security Council members, as well as regional and subregional organizations to ensure that the best possible support will be provided to the political dialogue process in Burundi.

Anybody else?  Okay.  Let’s have a great weekend.  And barring any major event, we will see you the week after next.

  Ah, urgency.

 On August 19, Inner City Press asked the UN about the new report by Radio Publique Africaine, which was the target of pro-Nkurunziza attacks early in the process, linking the government itself with the killing of its General.

 Inner City Press asked not only for the UN's view, but how this media under threat, RPA, might be protected. The UN merely "referred back" to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's previously, now superseded, statement. From the UN's August 19 transcript:

Inner City Press In Burundi, one of the media that was closed by the Government, RPA, Radio Publique Africaine, has published its publication of who killed the general that the Secretary-General denounced the assassination of.  Their investigation was pretty detailed, seems to say that it leads… the tracks lead back to the Government itself.  So, I wanted to know—

Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci:  I’ll just refer you back to his statement at that moment and his alarm at the trend of politically motivated violence that we’re seeing in Burundi.

Inner City Press:  But is the UN's Department of Political Affairs DPA tracking, I guess, these… it’s this… this report, one, if true, would be a pretty big thing and also seems to put the media at risk.  So I wanted to know, who in the UN system is sort of tracking these events?

Associate Spokesperson:  We have a presence in Burundi, a UN presence, as you know, and, of course, DPA is looking at, you know, the relevant offices in DPA look at the political developments of, all over the world, Matthew.

  In this same briefing UN spokesperson Maestracci told Inner City Press, "This is not your briefing;" earlier she said Inner City Press should just send in emails rather than say things in the briefing room and that Inner City Press is "so not interested in the answers."  That Vine here.

  On August 13 Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman about the promised envoy, and about torture and threats on other human rights defenders and even former UN peacekeepers. From the UN's August 13 transcript:

Inner City Press: there’s reports from Burundi that Richard Hagabimana, a military official, I guess, viewed as being anti-Nkurunziza, is not only in detention but is being tortured.  Given that he was a UN peacekeeper, I’m wondering whether the UN there in… in… in Bujumbura or otherwise is aware of that and also of threats against a second human rights defender, Mr. [inaudible] [ICP: it was Anschaire Nikoyagize], who has gone to…

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:  I haven’t seen those particular reports.  We can look into them.  Obviously, we’ve spoken out pretty strongly on these issues in the past.

Inner City Press:  Where does it stand on an envoy which was called imminent two days ago?

Spokesman:  When there is an update, I will share it with you.

Nothing. The president of the Security Council for August, Nigeria's Joy Ogwu, answered Inner City Press late on August 10 after a closed door briefing by Ivan Simonovic (see below, including possibility of ICC investigation or prosecution)  that the naming of an envoy is "imminent," to maintain "momentum."

  On August 11, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: The President of the Council yesterday called the naming of this envoy to Burundi imminent in order to keep the momentum going, which would seem to… probably come from Tayé Brook Zerihoun.  Does the Secretary-General feel the same imminence and…?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Yes, I think…  We can debate on the meaning of words.  I would say imminent would probably not be a bad choice of words.

  Well placed sources exclusively told Inner City Press that the threat is, if any sanctions are imposed, to pull Burundi's peacekeepers from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, and from the AU mission in Somalia.

  This type of linkage has worked before with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for example in the case of Bangladesh, with Inner City Press also closely covered.

  Inner City Press obtained a copy of OHCHR's Simonovic's briefing and puts it online here.

  Earlier on August 10, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the crackdown including police abductions in the Jabe neighborhood of Bujumbura, when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will name and send a new envoy and what Ban would like to see out of the Security Council meeting scheduled for the afternoon of August 10. Video here.

  Dujarric had no update on an envoy; Pressed, he said that the UN has a central office in Bujumbura which victims could contact.

There are names of the abducted, and photographs. We'll have more on this.

 On August 7, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Samantha Power, at the end of a question and answer stakeout, if the UN should name a new envoy to Burundi. Video here. Power paused and replied, "I'm sure they will, I expect them to."

  Minutes later at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, "Are there any moves afoot to do this?"

Spokesman Dujarric:  "I think we alluded to foots and moves.  An announcement will be made in due course when we are ready to make that announcement.  Obviously, you know, we have gone through, to speak plainly, I think we have gone through a number of facilitators and envoys in Burundi.  I think we just need to make sure that whenever an envoy is named he or she has the support, at least the promise of support from all parties.  It’s a critical, critical situation.  I mean, we are seeing the situation in Burundi on a tinder box.  So when we have something to announce, we shall."

 Back on August 6 at the UN noon briefing, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric disclosed that the previous day, Ban had spoken with Nkurunziza. Inner City Press immediately asked if Ban had raised to Nkurunziza the prospect of a new UN envoy or person to lead up the UN's work; Dujarric would not answer this. Video here. Audio here.

  For the UN Burundi is handled by the African I Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs; Inner City Press asked Dujarric about its scoop, that the outgoing president of the UN General Assembly Sam Kutesa, still the foreign minister of Uganda, has asked Ban's chef de cabinet Susana Malcorra to put his chief of staff, Arthur Kafeero, atop UN Africa 1. Dujarric would not even describe the status of recruitment.  Audio here. 
Video here. We'll have more on this.

 On August 5, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephen Dujarric:

Inner City Press: In Burundi, the Government there has put out a statement saying that they are now armed groups disguised as the military as official Government soldiers.  Apparently, I guess, they are basically trying to say that when you see a Government soldier kill somebody it might not be a Government soldier, it might be an armed group disguised.  So I wanted to… things seem to further deteriorating and I wanted to know, what… yesterday it was said there might be some UN individual named to deal with it, what are the steps being taken given what is happening?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Obviously, I think the Secretary-General and his colleagues, political and others are keeping a very close eye on the situation.  We are getting reports from our… from the human rights offices there.  I think we are obviously very concerned about the possibility of a quick spiralling, negative spiraling of the situation in Burundi.  It’s incumbent on the Government to ensure that whatever security operations are taken are taken with full respect to human rights law, to international humanitarian, international humanitarian law.  We’ve already expressed our concern of the treatment of the media.  I think what we are seeing just underscores the need for the political dialogue to resume and to put Burundi back on the right track.

Inner City Press:  Can you say anything more of the idea of a person to lead [the UN's work on Burundi]?

Spokesman Dujarric:  No.  I think Farhan spoke about it yesterday.  I have nothing else to add.

  Later on August 5, the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi issued this statement -- but a replacement of the UN's Bathily, rejected by Nkurunziza, remains UNnamed:

"The PBC Burundi Configuration strongly condemns the assassination on 2 August 2015 of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, former head of the National Intelligence Service, and in Charge of Special Missions at State House.

The PBC Burundi Configuration is concerned about the deterioration of the security environment marked by reported violence and violations of human rights.

The PBC Burundi Configuration notes with great concern the attack on 3 August against Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, president of «Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues» and respected human rights defender.

The PBC Burundi Configuration calls on all Burundians to exercise restraint in order to prevent a further escalation of violence.

The PBC Burundi Configuration calls on the Government and political actors to urgently resume dialogue, and on all Burundians to establish the necessary conditions for rebuilding trust and fostering national unity.

The PBC Burundi Configuration reiterates its support to regional and international initiatives aimed at supporting Burundi to re-engage in dialogue."

  So when WILL the UN at least name a replacement for Bathily?

 On August 4, Inner City Press asked incoming President of the UN Security Council for August, Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, what to expect on Burundi during the month. She said the space has been left in the Security Council's program of work for such emergencies.

  At the August 4 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the mediation in Burundi; he replied that the UN hopes in the near future to announce someone to lead the UN's work on Burundi.  Video here. When?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Permanent Representative Alexis Lamik of France, the Council's "penholder" on Burundi, whether any meeting has been scheduled. Not at this stage, he said.

  Later on August 4, the Security Council issued this statement:

"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the killing of General Adolphe Nshimirimana on 2 August and the violent attack on Pierre Claver Mbonimpa on 3 August. They noted that there is no place for violence and called on all actors to remain calm.

"The members of the Security Council expressed concern that the security situation in Burundi is deteriorating rapidly, following an electoral period marked by violence and reports of violations and abuses of human rights.

"The members of the Security Council appealed to the government of Burundi, as well as all political actors, to resume an inclusive dialogue without delay. To this end, they reaffirmed their support for regional engagement, in particular by the East African Community and the African Union, in calling for restraint and in pursuit of a political resolution to the crisis. The members of the Security Council remained committed to supporting long term peace and stability in Burundi."

 Back on August 3, Inner City Press asked UN Secreaty General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Nkurunziza's security forces beating and torturing journalist Esdras Ndikumana. Video here.

  Ban's spokesman said the UN was aware. But why wasn't it included in Ban's statement that day praising Nkurunziza?

On August 4, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the future of the MENUB mission, if the UN had visited Mbonimpa or tried to ensure protection for his family, and about the status of any mediation.

  While it appears that no UN visit to Mbonimpa has been made, Haq in his answer to Inner City Press say that the UN will "hopefully sometime in the near future announce someone who can lead the UN efforts on Burundi."

  The questions came rolling in, to Inner City Press and presumably to the UN: who? When? Could the third time, after Said Djinnit then Bathily, be the charm? We'll have more on this.

 On August 3, the UN put out this "read-out" of Ban's work on Burundi:

"The Secretary-General held a conference call today with H.E. Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, and H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, to discuss the situation in Burundi.

The Secretary-General reiterated his strong condemnation of the killing, this weekend, of General Adolphe Nshimirimana and expressed his concern over its implications for security in Burundi. He expressed his full support for President Museveni’s efforts to facilitate an inclusive political dialogue in Burundi on behalf of the East African Community.

The Secretary-General called for the swift resumption of the dialogue to defuse mounting tensions and pave the way for the formation of a government of national unity. It was agreed that the United Nations, the East African Community and the African Union should continue working closely together in a coordinated and unified approach to find a sustainable solution to the crisis in Burundi."

  We'll stay on this.

Here was Ban's belated statement:

"The Secretary-General notes with great concern the continuing deterioration of the security environment in Burundi following an electoral period marked by violence and the violation of human rights, including the right to life.

"In this context, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the killing of General Adolphe Nshimirimana on 2 August. He welcomes President Nkurunziza's message to the nation to remain calm and to the competent authorities to expeditiously investigate this assassination in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. He calls on the Burundian authorities to investigate diligently other recent political assassinations.

"The Secretary-General renews his appeal to all Burundians to resume an inclusive dialogue without delay and peacefully settle their differences under the facilitation of President Museveni as mandated by the East African Community. The Secretary-General remains committed to supporting peace consolidation and conflict prevention efforts in Burundi."

 After Dujarric read out the belated statement, Inner City Press asked about government security beating journalist Esdras Ndikumana. Dujarric indicated that the UN system is aware. But why then was it not in Ban's statement praising Nkurunziza? It's like Ban calling the elections "broadly peaceful."

With Ban slated to be in the UN press briefing room less than an hour later, Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access asked why Ban would not taken even a single question. Video here; Periscope here. That question remains, and will be pursued.

  The US State Department statement, calling for restraint, said:

"The United States condemns the murder of General Adolphe Nshimirimana in Bujumbura today and urges calm and restraint in the aftermath of the attack.  We call on all sides to renounce violence and to redouble their efforts to engage in a transparent, inclusive, and comprehensive political dialogue.  

"The path forward must address foundational issues, including respect for human rights, freedom of the press and other fundamental freedoms, and respect for the Arusha Agreement and its power-sharing provisions.  Restoration of dialogue is urgent, and all parties must work together in pursuit of a consensus, peaceful path forward for the people of Burundi."

  But where was Ban Ki-moon? He was not at the UN on August 2 with many countries' Permanent Representatives, working on and agreeing to a post-2015 development agenda text. But he quickly issued a statement on that, and seemed sure to brag about it with US President Barack Obama on August 4. But still silent on Burundi.

 After the government refused to attend the East African Community mediation sessions, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 23 blithely "took note" of what he called the "broadly peaceful conduct of polling."

 On July 28 the UN Security Council belatedly held closed door consultations about Burundi, the Council's first meeting on the country since July 9. Before the meeting ended, the Ambassador of France, the penholder of the Council on Burundi, had left. While the session was closed, afterward Inner City Press asked participants both on and off the record what was said.

  Inner City Press on background was told that the idea of a shortened third term for Nkurunziza had been raised in the meeting. On the record, at the UN Television stakeout, Inner City Press asked the Council's president for July Gerard von Bohemen of New Zealand if this had arisen.

 From the New Zealand mission's transcription:

Inner City Press: Burundi, I wanted to ask you whether there was any discussion of a government of national unity and in connection with that a possible short third term?

A: There was a strong support for the idea of a government of national unity. It’s recognised that there isn’t consensus as to what that might mean. There was reference by the Assistant-Secretary-General that for some that means a shorter third term but it’s not clear that that’s an accepted parameter for anybody at this stage.

 Periscope video for now here.

  On July 27, Inner City Press attended - after an initial request to keep it out - the UN Peacebuilding Configuration meeting on Burundi, then went and asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press:  On Burundi, I wanted to ask, there was a peacebuilding configuration meeting in Conference Room 5 and the representative of, I guess, the UN’s Human Rights Office said there is now, since 22 July, six AU [African Union] human rights monitors in the country, but the UN has no contact with them, because the Government hasn't somehow permitted it.  I wanted to know, one, is it the UN system they can't… I heard you from in podium say repeatedly how the UN works with the AU, likes the AU, the AU is going to solve it, why would it be the UN can't contact the human rights monitors of the AU?  And does Ban Ki-moon acknowledge that there is some… his statement about broadly peaceful is inconsistent as perceived with the MENUB report just out this hour?

Spokesman Dujarric:  No, I don't think it's inconsistent.  In fact, I think the MENUB report does talk about, you know, that the election day was relatively peaceful and conducted adequately.  However, as MENUB says, the overall environment was not conducive for a free and fair, credible election process.  So there, I don't agree with your compare and contrast exercise.  On the AU monitors, this is the first I've heard of it.  I can check.

  While seven hours later no information was provided, Inner City Press at 4:30 pm on July 27 asked the President of the UN Security Council for July, Gerard von Bohemen of New Zealand, if finally there would be a Security Council meeting on Burundi (the first since July 9), now that the MENUB report was out. Yes, he said, there'd be consultations on July 28 at 3 pm.

  The briefers will be Department of Political Affairs official Taye-Brook Zerihoun and MENUB Officer in Charge Issaka Souna, by video from Bujumbura. We'll be there.

  Inner City Press on July 23 asked one of Ban's Associate Spokespeople Vannina Maestracci on what basis Ban "noted" as he did a "peaceful conduct of polling," while she continued to say wait for the UN's MENUB mission's report. Video here. She said she would not "dissect every word" of Ban's statement. How about one word: peaceful?

   On July 24, after Nkurunziza was declared the winner and the East African Community said it was neither free nor fair, Inner City Press asked another UN spokesperson at the day's noon briefing what Ban had meant by "broadly peaceful," in light of the EAC finding and for example an Amnesty International report on abuses.

 This spokesperson said that given Ban's previously warnings of violence, he had been "relatively speaking" by saying things were peaceful. Video here.


Finally Inner City Press asked where Ban is, "taking note." Ban is "away from the office," while his Public Schedule continues to say "all appointments are internal."

 The day before on July 22 Inner City Press at the UN noon briefing asked the UN what it was doing:

Inner City Press: yesterday, I'd asked Farhan about these reports of at least two deaths during the voting, and he said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had these four monitoring teams out.  I understand it takes them a few days to put together their electoral assessment.  But, does that side of the UN have anything to say about actual physical violence directed at those voting or not voting?

Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci: Nothing from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights right now… but you're right, they do have four teams on the ground, regional teams that are mobile.  And as soon as we hear back from them and from MENUB, from the Electoral Mission, we will let you know.

  While still waiting, Ban Ki-moon on July 23 issued this statement:

"The Secretary-General takes note of the broadly peaceful conduct of polling in the Burundian presidential elections on 21 July. He calls on all parties to continue to remain calm and immediately resume an inclusive political dialogue to resolve their differences and address the challenges facing the country.
 
"The Secretary-General reminds the Burundian authorities of their responsibility to guarantee and protect the safety and security of the civilian population and ensure an end to further acts of violence as well as accountability for any human rights violations committed.
 
"The Secretary-General calls on the Burundian parties to engage in good faith in the political dialogue putting Burundi’s national interests first and fully determined to implement the relevant outstanding provisions of the 6 July East African Community (EAC) summit outcome document, under the high-level facilitation of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. The United Nations remains committed to working closely with the EAC and African Union (AU) to help find a lasting solution in Burundi.
 
"In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the deployment of AU human rights observers and military experts aimed at helping prevent an escalation of violence and facilitating a peaceful resolution of the serious political crisis affecting Burundi."

  UNrelevant.

  Also on July 22, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Francois Delattre of France, the "penholder" in the UN Security Council on Burundi, if there would be a briefing about the situation there. "I will think about that," he said. (Inner City Press asked again on July 23 and got a laugh, perhaps out of politeness.)

 Later on July 22, Inner City Press asked the Security Council's president for July, Ambassador Gerard von Bohemen of New Zealand, if there would be a briefing on Burundi, from MENUB. From the NZ UN transcript:

Inner City Press: About Burundi, now that this election took place, some people were killed during it, is there going to be any kind of Council briefing or to hear from MENUB their review of it?

A: So we’re waiting to hear back from MENUB so then we’ll be in a better position to make a decision about when next to discuss the issue.

On June 21 Inner City Press asked the Deputy Spokesperson, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: in Burundi, there are reports of a number of deaths that have taken place during the day's polling, and I'm wondering, is that something that the UN, either the human rights side or MENUB, can confirm at this time before they issue a written report?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:  I don't have any details to share on that.  You've seen the reports, as we all have done.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights Office also has staff from four regional offices deployed from Bujumbura, among which are two mobile teams who are working closely with security staff and the UN Electoral Observation Mission.  And as I said before you got in, we have teams from the Mission, MENUB, deployed to all of the country’s 18 provinces, and there's a total of 21 teams of 3 observers each being deployed.

 Earlier on July 21, UK Minister for Africa, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, said:
 
“The Burundian government has failed to ensure the necessary conditions for credible, inclusive and peaceful elections. I therefore do not consider these elections legitimate. Since April, 77 people have been killed and many arrested; over 170,000 Burundians have become refugees and freedom of expression has been curbed. The Burundian government’s refusal to engage in political dialogue has destabilised the country.
 
“I urge the Burundian government to accept the reality on the ground and to uphold the spirit of the Arusha Agreement. I call for calm and restraint from all sides.  Otherwise, the significant progress Burundi has made since the end of the civil war is in danger of being lost.”

  On July 21, the US State Department issued this statement:

"The United States warns that elections held under the current conditions in Burundi will not be credible and will further discredit the government.

"The legitimacy of the electoral process in Burundi over the past few months has been tainted by the government’s harassment of opposition and civil society members, closing down of media outlets and political space, and intimidation of voters. Dozens have been killed, and as many as 167,000 Burundians are now refugees in neighboring nations.

"The government’s insistence on going forward with Presidential elections on Tuesday risks its legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and of the international community. More serious is the risk of unraveling the fragile progress made through the implementation of the Arusha Agreement, which states clearly that no Burundi president shall serve more than two terms in office.

"We commend the East African Community and the Government of Uganda for their efforts to encourage political dialogue, and are disappointed that the Government of Burundi has thus far failed to participate in good faith in this dialogue. We are deeply concerned that Foreign Minister Nyamitwe also failed to approve entry for African Union human rights monitors in advance of the election, preventing the multitude of allegations of human rights violations and abuses from being properly investigated.

"We underscore our commitment to helping seek accountability for those who commit or instigate politically-motivated violence and other human rights abuses in Burundi.

"Attempts by the Government of Burundi to deny citizens the ability to choose their leadership freely, without intimidation and threat of violence, will force the United States to carefully review all aspects of our partnership not yet suspended, including the imposition of visa restrictions on those responsible for -- or complicit in -- promoting instability in Burundi through violence.

"We strongly urge all parties to recommit themselves to upholding the Arusha Agreement and its power-sharing arrangement, the cornerstone of peace and security over the past decade in Burundi."

  But no one in the UN Security Council, where France holds the pen on Burundi, even asked for a meeting or briefing in the days before the election.

  On the night of July 20, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued this statement:

"The Secretary-General takes note of the indefinite suspension of the inter-Burundian dialogue that started on 14 July 2015 under the facilitation of Uganda pursuant to the recommendations of the Summit of the East African Community (EAC) of 6 July 2015. He commends the efforts of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and of the East African Community (EAC) and calls on all organizations and Burundi’s partners to work together to help Burundians resolve their differences peacefully.
 
"The Secretary-General notes that the suspension of the dialogue took place without agreement being reached on a range of issues that would have contributed to the creation of a climate conducive to the holding of credible and peaceful elections, as contained in the relevant recommendations of the EAC and the African Union.
 
"In this worrisome context, and following the decision of the Burundian government to hold the presidential election on 21 July, the Secretary-General calls on the authorities to do all in their power to ensure security and a peaceful atmosphere during the election. He further calls on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could compromise the stability of Burundi and the region.
 
"The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal for the resumption of a frank dialogue among all parties and urges them to avoid undermining the progress achieved in building democracy since the signing of the Arusha Agreements.
 
"The Secretary-General recalls that the United Nations Electoral Observation Mission, in accordance with its Security Council mandate to observe the electoral process before, during and after the elections, continues to undertake this task and has deployed observers countrywide to that effect. He calls on all parties to facilitate their work and calls, in particular, on the government to ensure their security."

  Before 5 pm on July 2 Inner City Press asked the UN Security Council president if any Council member asked for a meeting or statement.

  "No one has," UNSC president Gerard von Bohemen of New Zealand told Inner City Press.

 At the July 20 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi.  Tomorrow, it’s slated to be the presidential election with the controversial third term, and the Government has stopped attending the "mediation" or facilitation sessions sponsored by Uganda.  So, what is the UN… I know that you were deferring to that mediation, but now it's, they say, adjourned, but it seems like the Government's not participating.  What does the UN plan to do and what report do you have on violence, including repeated reported shelling today in Bujumbura?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  At this stage, regarding the violence, our Electoral Mission, MENUB, is working to get an assessment of the conditions.  It will have an assessment of the election whenever it happens, which it will then share with the Security Council.  And we would try to provide details with you of what the electoral mission's assessment is, once we receive that.  Regarding the political process, the United Nations wasn't involved in the process that was taking place over the weekend.  We are aware of the reports concerning the failure of the Government side to attend the talks.  Of course, we are supportive of the efforts by the facilitation under the facilitator that had been designated, President [Yoweri] Museveni, to try to bring the sides together, and we hope that that process can succeed.  Meanwhile, we're monitoring the situation on the ground, and we'll issue any further statements including, like I said, the assessment, as circumstances warrant.

Inner City Press:  This MENUB mission, there seem to be different understandings or reports from Burundi.  How many people are actually out… will actually be out tomorrow observing election places?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, like I said, once the Election Day occurs, we'll get some details from the Mission about its presence and its work.  But, at this stage, the basic point is it has a clear Security Council mandate to report back to the Council, and that's what it's going to do.

  Back on July 16, a group of UN experts -- independent, to be sure -- issued a call for action by the UN Security Council, where the "penholder" on Burundi has been notably quiet.

  Later on July 16, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: on Burundi, I assume that you've seen this… the group of six UN independent Special Rapporteurs have called for greater action to prevent atrocities in the country.  They specifically talk about the role of the Security Council that hasn't met for a week on this and that the elections are now right around the corner.  Has the D… has DPA asked to meet with the Security Council, asked to provide any information?  What's the UN doing as [Yoweri] Museveni has left? What's…

Spokesman:  It's a situation where we're continuing… continuing to watch both on the ground through our presence there.  Our colleagues here are monitoring the situation closely.  What the Security Council intends to do, that is up to the Security Council to decide.

Inner City Press: But I guess what I'm saying is under this supposed [Human] Rights up Front policy, the idea would be, like, when the DPA thinks that atrocities could take place, they ask to meet with the Security Council or they…

Spokesman:  Listen, I think we've… the situation… the very unstable situation in Burundi continues to be of concern to us.  We flagged it here from this podium.  The Secretary-General and others have been involved in talking to people on the phone.  We're continuing to watch it, and if we have more to say…

Inner City Press: I know I'd asked you this before, but when is the… has the Secretary-General sought to speak to President [Pierre] Nkurunziza during any of these many weeks and months?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I have no updates on his contacts.

   The experts among other things said:

“The world is witnessing an escalating pattern of politically motivated violence in Burundi, enabled by the country’s decades-long tradition of impunity. The international community must not simply stand by and wait for mass atrocities to unfold, thereby risking a major conflict of regional proportions before it finally decides to act... We also witness efforts to coerce the judiciary, some of whose highest members have fled the country claiming their lives were at risk. In the meantime, armed militias, with the collaboration of authorities, exercise violence against civilians. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the results of the 29 June elections have generally not been endorsed.

“The absence of independent media and a climate of repression and fear to exercise civil rights and express opinions, notably by peacefully taking to the streets, have marred the recent elections and will also be defining the forthcoming presidential elections, now scheduled for 21 July. The postponement by six days of the presidential elections does not remedy this blatant deficiency.

“If the government persists in holding presidential elections under the current circumstances – something even the former first Vice-President objected to after also having fled the country – they will in no way confer any legitimacy on the to-be-elected authorities. On the contrary, the elections are highly likely to result in major instability and confrontations in Burundi, with the potential to spread to the region.

“The Security Council has a unique role for peace and security and for preventing conflicts worldwide. This is a crisis that is eminently preventable – everyone can see the risks. What is lacking is action.Given the painful history of Burundi and the region, the long engagement of the United Nations in the country to re-build peace, the Security Council must be all the more alerted to the increasing potential of an escalation of massive violence. Burundians, who live in the world’s third poorest country must be spared another cycle of violence, with the misery and destruction that violence always leave on its wake. They look to the Security Council to live up to its unique role in the prevention of mass atrocities.”

   They noted, as Inner City Press has, that it was a full week ago, on July 9, that “the situation on Burundi was most recently discussed by the Security Council.” The experts included the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Michel Forst; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; and the Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Seong-Phil Hong.

  Regarding the Yoweri Museveni "mediation," which by silence the UN Security Council is implicitly endorsing, Inner City Press on July 15 asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Presss: on Burundi, President [Yoweri] Museveni has left the country, his proposal was not accepted.  He's left his defence minister there.  One, did the UN stand behind those proposals?  Did they have any idea what proposals he was going to make?  Are they now working with the defence minister?  It's okay.  I have another one on this, but it's up to you.

Spokesman Dujarric:  As I said, the UN supported the mediation process put forward by the East Africa Community, which is being led by Museveni.  I don't have any more details from what is actually…

Inner City Press:  How did the UN support it?

Spokesman:  We're supporting… we're supportive of the facilitation effort.

Inner City Press: There are also reports there that the authorities are declining to give death certificates to people killed by either police or militia.  And I wanted to know… you'd said that the human rights mechanism of the UN that's there is there… is recording and routinely reports.  So where are the reports?

Spokesman:  I will check when they're next scheduled to report.

  In the hours the followed, again nothing.

  On July 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On Burundi, now President [Yoweri] Museveni is in Bujumbura.  They say he's holding these talks in the Hotel Bel Air residence.  Is Mr. [Abdoulaye] Bathily or any UN representative taking part, and do you have anything on a possible FDLR presence on the border?

Spokesman:  I don't believe Mr. Bathily is there.  I know the Secretary-General and President Museveni spoke briefly yesterday, if I'm not mistaken.  They are scheduled to speak before the day is over.  I have nothing on the Burundi border.

  Moments later Inner City Press asked the UN's envoy to the DR Congo Martin Kobler about the FDLR, both in DRC and as regards Burundi. Video here. First, the Security Council's president for July Gerard von Bohemen indicated that the only discussion of Burundi on July 14 was as a source of refugees to DRC, which Kobler said the DRC could handle.

 In the Security Council chamber, Kobler had said, "I have been monitoring the situation in Burundi very closely, as the country has descended into violence over the last two months. Today, over 140,000 people have fled into neighboring countries, including 12,800 to the DRC. I highlight these events to remind us again of the importance of respecting the constitution, and of creating the necessary political space for a national consensus around elections."

  Inner City Press asked Kobler if by this he meant that a third term for Pierre Nkurunziza would violate the constitution of Burundi, or Arusha Agreements. But Kobler didn't answer this. (Reuters cut in, and didn't report a word of what Kobler said about Burundi).

  On July 13, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On Burundi, you said that the UN human rights team there is recording... when are they going to report that?  There are these pictures of people described as rebels being arrested by the Government that many people are saying are just farmers who happened to belong to opposition parties.  There's also pictures of corpses.  When is the UN actually going to report on what it's witnessed in the last day?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I'll check with them, but our human rights colleagues tend to report on a regular basis.

  So when will that be? Inner City Press on July 13 also asked Dujarric:

Inner City Press: MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo], ist said there are forces on the border now with Burundi gathered.  So I'm asking you this now, because there's some concern coming from both directions, interventions.  Is it anything to your knowledge that MONUSCO, DRC or DPA is aware of?

Spokesman:  Let me check.  Thank you, all.  Have great day.

  To this has the UN been reduced.

 From the July 10 transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you in Burundi, they're now, you know, in the last hours, there's reports of heavy gunfire on border with Rwanda.  There's been grenade attacks in the capital, and some are saying that people seeking to flee are not being allowed to by the ruling party's militia.  So what's the status of the UN both observing these things?  Does the UN acknowledge that things have actually gotten heated up since even yesterday's Security Council meeting?

Spokesman:  No, clearly.  I think we very much strongly condemn any type of violent action, any action that is meant to destabilize the already tense and fragile situation in Burundi.  We've taken note, as you mentioned, very recently there have been clashes, reported clashes between Burundi's national defence forces and unidentified armed groups in the country's north on the Rwandan border, and we're following the situation closely.  And we're trying to verify the authenticity of these reports.

Inner City Press:  Given that… I mean it seems like there's no real public accounting or reporting about the Museveni facilitation and there obviously… there's some issues in Uganda at present, so maybe these occupied by those.  But what's the UN doing in terms of…

Spokesman:  I think we're there to support this facilitation, which is organized by the East African Community under the blessing of the African Union.  So you should also address your questions to them.

  On July 9, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights delivered the speech below to the UN Security Council, click here for that, and here for Burundi's Ambassador's speech.

  After the Security Council's last meeting of July 9, about Syria, Inner City Press asked the Council's president for July, Gerard van Bohemen of New Zealand, if the idea of postponing Burundi's election for a mere week to July 22 was discussed in closed door consultations. He replied that Constitutional issues were discussed but no decision or conclusion reached. Video here.

 Earlier in the day at the UN noon briefing on July 9, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric for the UN's or Ban's position on a delay of a mere week, to July 22, transcript here:

Inner City Press: in Tayé Brook Zerihoun’s briefing to the Council about Burundi, he said that there's been no formal forum for dialogue since 26 June, and then the permanent representative of Burundi said that there is some discussion of moving back the election a week to 21-22 July, he said, consistent with the Constitution.  So I wanted to know, is Mr. [Abdoulaye] Bathily part of these discussions?  And what does the UN think?  Does the UN think that a one-week extension is… addresses the issues that were raised by…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think the issues of the political climate and to create a political climate is conducive to elections in Burundi will be discussed through the facilitation mechanism, which will be led by Mr. [Yoweri] Museveni and supported by the UN.

Inner City Press:  But since he's saying… as of today, he said there is no mechanism, so it's going to begin between now and the 15th or now and…

Spokesman Dujarric:  Again, this will be led by President Museveni, so I would urge you to ask questions in that direction.

 (Before the Security Council meeting started, the questions or chatter outside was unrelated to Burundi.)

 On July 8, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: In the Srebrenica debate just now, Prince Zeid said the UN must be resolute.  Had this been in the case in Sri Lanka in 2009 or now in Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic or even Burundi and Myanmar, the consequences would have been different.  I have questions about a number of those countries, but I wanted to ask you, on Burundi, where he says "even Burundi", I wanted to know, one, does the UN have any response now that the ruling party has announced its whopping win on 29 June?  And, two, people are coming forward with names of victims and names of alleged killers, including victim Serge Bizimana, and they say police officer [UN says inaudible, ICP said JM Havugayezu] killed him.  They have a picture of him.. I'm just wondering:  What is the UN doing on the ground to… either to look into these cases after the fact or prevent them going forward?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Well, I think on… on the political situation, as I said yesterday, we fully support the work of the facilitation, which will now be led by Mr. [Yoweri] Museveni.  And obviously, the Secretary-General fully supports the work of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, his team, and the human rights situation in Burundi is of concern, as we've often stated.

Inner City Press:  But, just one follow-up.  If… if as the report that was read out from this podium last week was that the elections held on 29 June didn't have the conditions of fairness or freedom and… so what's your response to the results that are announced?  Does the UN recognize those results?

Spokesman Dujarric:  It's not up to the UN to recognize or not recognize the results.  We did not participate in the election, as I understand it.  It is clear that all Burundian parties need to support the facilitation to create the right political atmosphere.

Inner City Press:  What was MENUB (United Nations Electoral Mission in Burundi] doing if not participating and observing?  I mean, there's this…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I understand.  I do not believe they were involved in these particular elections.

  Again we ask: so MENUB was NOT observing the June 29 elections, just as UNDP's Helen Clark tweeted then deleted? This is a new low for the UN. On July 9, Zeid and Tayé-Brook Zerihoun are set to brief the Security Council. Watch this site.

 On July 7, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Burundi, I know that Mr. [Abdoulaye] Bathily did go to the EAC (East African Community) meeting.  They basically named Yoweri Museveni as the facilitator between the Government and the opposition in Burundi and asked the Government to delay the presidential election at least until the end of July.  I wanted to know, one, does the UN play any role in this Museveni mediation?  Two, does the UN, DPA (Department of Political Affairs) or Mr. Bathily, do they support this call to postpone the election?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Sure.  I think… yes, Mr. Bathily took part in the EAC meeting.  He briefed on his role as part of the international facilitation.  We've taken note of what has come out of the summit, of the East African Summit.  And we very much welcome the appointment of Ugandan President Museveni as the facilitator of the dialogue in Burundi.  Obviously, we will see how President Museveni intends to take this new format forward.  But what is clear is that the UN will support this facilitation effort in a way that helps create the right atmosphere for elections in Burundi.

Inner City Press:  Given that it's now the 7th and the election is… and President Nkurunziza is campaigning and the date is set for the 15th, can you imagine this facilitation somehow creating the conditions that… that the UN… the MENUB (United Nations Electoral Mission in Burundi) report said should be required by the 15th?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You know, obviously, I think it's… the situation in Burundi has been challenging, to say the least.  We have a new facilitation format, I think, led by a regional President.  We'll support that, and, obviously, it's up to Mr. Museveni to take it forward.  But the UN very much will support his action.  We hope they do get under way as quickly as possible.

Inner City Press:  And last, has the Secretary-General made any call since your last listing, where he spoke to President [Jakaya] Kikwete?  Does he intend to speak with President Museveni or anyone else on this topic?

Spokesman:  The Secretary-General and his aides remain in contact with regional leaders.  Obviously, the Secretary-General will be out of pocket, basically for the next 24 hours.  But as soon as we can update you the phone list, we will.

  In the eight hours after, no updates were given. The "out of pocket" Ban Ki-moon managed to issue a statement, about Boko Haram. Inner City Press asked the president of the Security Council for July, Gerard van Bohemen, is last week's draft press statement is dead. He replied it was decided that the previous Presidential Statement was strong. But that was before the June 29 election, no? The Security Council is scheduled to meet about Burundi again on July 9; we'll be there.

  The day before on July 6, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. (This was before the East African Community urged postponement until July 30 and named Yoweri Museveni as the mediator, and UN DPA did not respond with its position). From the July 6 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: over the weekend or even now a couple of days ago, it seems like the Government in Burundi has said that they reject Mr. [Abdoulaye] Bathily as the mediator, saying he wasn't sufficiently deferential, or they didn't actually kind of register or meet with him.  One, I wanted to know what your response is to their critique of what he's done.  But, also, what's the next step?  Is it the case that he's no longer mediating there?  Who's representing the UN at the EAC [East African Community] meeting?  And what… what's the Secretary-General's thoughts as we approach 15 July?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Okay.  Well, first of all, on the question of these remarks that you saw over the weekend in the media, the Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the work done so far by Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily as a member of the Joint International Facilitation Team.  The Joint International Facilitation Team, of which Special Representative Bathily is a member, was established by a Summit of the African Union Peace and Security Council.  The conclusions reached by the Facilitation Team were endorsed by all the organizations forming the team.  We reiterate our full support for the diplomatic initiatives that Special Representative Bathily has conducted with professionalism and integrity, and in coordination with the other members of the Joint International Facilitation Team.  You asked what he's doing right now.  Mr. Bathily attended the East African Community, the EAC Summit today in Dar-es-Salaam at the invitation of the EAC Chair, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.  We will await the report from the EAC summit before considering further actions to facilitate political dialogue among Burundian stakeholders.  The UN is committed to helping the Burundian parties create the conditions for peaceful and credible elections.  This requires a corresponding commitment from the parties, acting in good faith, to achieve this goal.

Inner City Press:  Can you see the election going forward on the 15… given the report that came out last Thursday and the impending presidential election with Mr. [Pierre] Nkurunziza running, can the UN foresee that as being even possibly fair, free and without violence?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, this is ultimately a question that's up to the Burundian parties themselves.  You'll have seen what we have been saying in recent days, and we stand by what we've said.  And, regarding further steps, of course, again, we'll await a report from the EAC summit before we consider further actions

 Meanwhile Burundian civil society organizations have said they "condemn the electoral forcing made by President Nkurunziza  in as much as it is a dead-end path taken in total disregard of the Arusha Agreement, the Constitution and the relevant decisions taken by the East African Community and the African Union."

  Back on July 2 UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq at the noon briefing announced that the UN's observer MENUB mission's report "is available in my Office."

  Inner City Press, which has been asking for and about the report for two days, immediately went there. But it was NOT in the Spokesperson's Office. Back in the briefing room, Inner City Press asked why not, and if UN human rights official Ivan Simonovic would make public his Office's findings about killings in Burundi. "It's a closed meeting," Haq replied, of the Security Council proceedings.

   Haq in response to Inner City Press' question read out a short summary of the MENUB report.  Reuters reported Haq's if-asked AS the UN's findings, and later another global media couched the UN's position on Burundi as something that spokesperson Haq "told Reuters." This is the UN, & Reuters.

  Later the MENUB report did become available, in hard copy. Inner City Press tweeted a photo and the conclusion that on June 29 "the environment was not conducive to free, credible and inclusive elections.”

  But as Inner City Press asked Haq, doesn't that apply to the presidential election still set for July 15? Inner City Press asked if Ban thinks it should be postponed; there was no clear answer. Will the UN be represented at the East African Community meeting on July 6 or 7? UNclear. Here's more of the MENUB report:

MENUB  “observed media freedom restrictions, violations of human rights and other fundamental freedoms;" it was in “50 municipalities out of 119... polling procedures were not respected in all cases.”

   Inner City Press continues to ask, if MENUB and Burundi were so important to the UN, why was the mission's chair Cassam Uteem not replaced upon departure?

 Inner City Press asked Haq who in the UN system is monitoring or even simply counting the people killed in Cibitoke and elsewhere.

  Haq mentioned the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose Prince Zeid is slated to brief the Security Council next week. That Office is bound up in a scandal about not reporting sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic. And here?

 As Inner City Press reported on June 30, a coalition of civil society groups has written to the African Union urging sanctions on Nkurunziza. Inner City Press has obtained the letter and put it online here.

   This comes as the United States proposes UN sanctions against at least six individuals in South Sudan, and after the US State Department on June 29 put out this statement:

"The United States supports the AU’s decision not to send electoral observers in recognition that free, fair and credible elections are impossible given the current security situation and the closure of political and media space.  We share the AU’s concern about the hardships facing the people of Burundi and urge President Nkurunziza to cooperate fully with the AU and regional organizations to resolve the current crisis and enable credible elections to go forward at a later date."

  If the US supports the AU position, what of the UN's UNclear position?

 On June 30, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq where the observation(s) of MENUB are. Tomorrow, he said. We'll see.

  On June 28, both UN Secretary General and the UN's MENUB said that the MENUB mission IS observing the legislative election, unlike the African Union which announced that it would not, due to conditions not being met.

  But in a parallel universe, on June 29 the head of the UN Development Program Helen Clark tweeted that "UN is not observing and has withdrawn from support to the conduct of the election." Then after Inner City Press noted it, Clark deleted it. Thus does the UN try to have it both ways.

   Later on June 29 along with a question about climate change Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon about Burundi, and if the UN is observing. Video here. From the UN's own transcript:

Inner City Press: Because it is the day of the election in Burundi, I have to ask this, where does it stand for the international community for an election that is taking place without any observers, what can be done? What is the next step forward?

SG Ban Ki-moon: "Let me briefly answer your question about the current situation in Burundi. Yesterday, all day long, I have been speaking to some African leaders in the region, including President Kikwete of Tanzania who is acting as President of the East African Community. I have also spoken to AU Chairperson Madame Zuma, as well as President Zuma of South Africa. They are the leaders who have been constantly engaging in this. I have been expressing my serious concern that while all the opposition political parties have boycotted - and even the Vice-President and the Parliamentary speakers – they have all condemned and criticized President Nkurunziza and left their country because of their serious concern. While UNDP and the United Nations have withdrawn our electoral support there, our United Nations observation team is now observing this election process. Now it seems that the election has been continuing. I reiterated my appeal to all Burundian political leaders to consider the wider interest of the people of their country and to resolve political issues through dialogue in order to preserve peace and strengthen national reconciliation.  I also emphasize the responsibility of the Government of Burundi to ensure that the elections take place in a secure environment and also to guarantee the safety and security of UN observers, so that they can perform their mandated responsibilities free from intimidation and harassment. This is mandated by the Security Council. This is what I can tell you at this time. I am very closely observing and watching and coordinating and consulting with African leaders. Thank you."

  While the answer is appreciated, it remained unclear what Clark had meant, and the UN's stance on the elections and observing them. Inner City Press asked for a yes or no answer, was Clark wrong in saying the UN is not observing - and no clear answer was given.

  We also note that while Laurent Fabius of France, the UN Security Council penholder on Burundi, was doing this as a joint press encounter with Ban, Fabius did not answer on Burundi at all. We'll have more on this.

   We note that Helen Clark hope to replace Ban, if the UNSG position slips away from the Eastern European Group. Inner City Press has also reported the UN's retaliation against a staff member who dared to tweet back at Helen Clark, here. (Then again, Ban Ki-moon's security detail ejected Inner City Press from an "open" meeting this morning, at the demand of UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, story here, video here.)

  Update: in classic UN fashion, after being caught trying to have it both ways on Burundi, Helen Clark's tweet simply "disappeared" - but here is a cell phone photograph of it

   Even when the UN purports to answer on its role, it does so quietly and selectively, while remaining too quiet about local radio stations shut down. Then Ban Ki-moon speaks in a statement, UNclear as usual: this time saying that the UN's MENUB mission WILL observe the elections, and not even adding that observation doesn't validate the voting. This while the African Union has said it will NOT observe on June 29, here.

  On June 28, Ban Ki-moon issued a this statement:

"The Secretary-General is concerned about the Government of Burundi's insistence on going ahead with elections on 29 June despite the prevailing political and security environment. 
 
"The International Facilitation Team in Bujumbura has been working hard to assist the Burundian parties to reach a consensus on the way forward for holding free, fair inclusive and peaceful elections.  The Secretary-General deplores the intransigence of the parties that caused those important efforts to be inconclusive.

"The Secretary-General recalls the decisions of the Security Council, including resolution 2137 (2014), which mandated the United Nations Observer Mission in Burundi (MENUB) to observe the elections. In fulfilling its mandate, MENUB will continue to work in a professional and impartial manner, in accordance with national laws applicable to electoral matters and international instruments, principles and rules of election observation.  The Secretary-General emphasizes the responsibility of the Government of Burundi to ensure that elections take place in a secure environment and also to guarantee the safety and security of UN observers so that they can perform their mandated responsibilities free from intimidation or harassment.

"The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to all Burundian political leaders to consider the wider interest of the people of their country and to resolve political issues through dialogue in order to preserve peace and strengthen national reconciliation. Condemning recent attacks reported in the country, he appeals to all Burundians to refrain from violent acts, in line with the Charter of Non-Violence agreed by all parties."

  What about not validating?

  On June 27, the UN's replacement envoy Bathily held a press conference in Bujumbura which the UN did not live-stream, nor provide an audio feed or file from (unlike in Mali), nor any transcript (unlike in DR Congo).

  Now the UN's MENUB mission has put out a press release arguing that it is not legitimating Nkurunziza's elections. But this press release was not distributed by the UN Spokesperson's Office, to which Inner City Press has directed multiple questions about what, if anything, MENUB is doing.

  And so the Free UN Coalition for Access publishes this fast translation:

“MENUB was put in place in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2137 (2014). MENUB is mandated to follow the electoral process in Burundi before, during and after the elections, to to report to the Secretary General of the UN who, for his part, will report to the Security Council. The implementation of this mandate began on January 1, 2015. To this end, MENUB operates in a neutral and impartial manner. Its observation is carried out by professionals and is based on national laws, international instruments and all the applicable rules and principles of election observation. The first time of MENUB observers were deployed across Burundi starting in January 2015.

“The observation of elections by MENUB cannot and should not be interpreted as support to any party or as a validation of the process.

“MENUB invites all relevant parties to respect the neutrality of the observers deployed on the ground and gives heartfelt thanks to the support afforded to it in the execution of its mandate.”

   Is it true, that MENUB's now murky role CANNOT be interpreted as validating or legitimating Nkurunziza's elections? Especially now that Ban Ki-moon has "spoken" without saying anything about not validating?

  A coalition of civil society groups in Burundi issued a call for a systematic boycott of the parliamentary election set for June 29. (If held, these elections could be a set up to further change the constitution.)

  So when the UN's replacement envoy to Burundi, UNOCA's Bathily, held a press conference in Bujumbura on June 27, one would have expect the UN to find a way to live-stream or at least audio-stream it. At least the Free UN Coalition for Access had and has such an expectation.

 But it did not happen. Only second and third hand did Bathily's bon mots come out, including that the UN is not there to impose its views but to facilitate. So it has said nothing about the third term -- and, Inner City Press understands, favors the opposition just accepting the third term.

  When Bathily was at the UN in New York, he did not take any questions at the stakeout. FUNCA opposes this too, part of the Ladsousification of the UN. If all the UN has are its words, why play it like this? This month Ban Ki-moon's security detail threw the Press out of an open meeting of UN Peacekeeping; on June 26, Ban's Conference Officer(s) ordered Inner City Press to stop broadcasting an open meeting via Twitter's Periscope service.

 Why wasn't the Bujumbura press conference at least Periscoped, or audio streamed? We'll have more on this.

 The Security Council on June 26 agreed to and adopted a version of France's draft Presidential Statement which Inner City Press exclusively published earlier this week; then Burundi's representative gave a speech vowing elections will take place on June 29 and to avoid the situations of Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire, and saying that opposition is "childlike" with demands from "outside the Continent." Here is the UNSC Presidential Statement:

"The Security Council reiterates its deep concern regarding the grave security and political situation in Burundi against the backdrop of the forthcoming, communal, presidential and senatorial elections and for the impact of the crisis in the region. The Security Council strongly condemns all acts of violence and human rights violations and abuses and recalls that those responsible for such violence should be held accountable and brought to justice.

The Security Council welcomes the regional and sub-regional efforts aimed at addressing the crisis, and in this regard takes note of the conclusions of the East African Community (EAC) summits held on 13 May and 31 May 2015 in Dar-es-Salaam, of the communiquÿ issued by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) after its Summit held on 13 June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and of the letters sent by the Government of Burundi to the Security Council.

The Security Council pays tribute to the relentless efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General (SESG) for the Great Lakes Region, Safd Djinnit and recalls that Burundian stakeholders had made some progress in a difficult dialogue thanks to SESG Djinnit's able facilitation,

The Security Council takes note of the African Union's statement that the political dialogue has not produced expected results and that the current situation could jeopardize the important gains recorded following the signing of the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi and the Global Ceasefire agreement of 2003, and affect the stability of the region,

The Security Council welcomes the resumption of the dialogue between all the Burundian parties, under the facilitation of the AU, the UN, the EAC and the ICGLR. In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the appointment of Professor Ibrahima Fall by the AU, Special Representative of the chairperson of the Commission for the Great Lakes Head of the AU Liaison office in Bujumbura. The Security Council also welcomes the arrival in Bujumbura of United Nations SRSG for Central Africa and Head of UNOCA, Abdoulaye Bathily, which allows for the international mediation to immediately assist all parties to expedite the search for a consensual political solution to the crisis.
While acknowledging that further steps must continue to be taken by parties to adhere to the decisions taken by the EAC and the AU PSC, the Council calls on the Burundian parties to urgently participate in an inclusive dialogue which should focus, in the spirit of the Arusha Agreements, and the Constitution, on the measures to be taken to create conditions conducive to the organization of free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

The Council takes note of the statement in the AU PSC Communique of 13 June that the date of the election should be set by consensus between the Burundian parties, in the spirit of the EAC's communiqu6 of 32 May 2025 requesting a postponement of the elections, and on the basis of a technical assessment to be undertaken by the United Nations.

The Security Council emphasizes that the dialogue should address all matters on which the parties disagree. The Security Council further emphasizes that this dialogue should address concerns related to the reinstatement of private media; the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular freedoms of expression and of peaceful assembly, including for members of the political opposition to campaign freely, as guaranteed by the Constitution of Burundi; the release of those arbitrarily detained following demonstrations; the respect for the rule of the law; and the urgent disarmament of all armed youth groups allied with political parties, as reflected in the conditions of the EAC communique of 31 May 2025, conditions to be met prior to the holding of elections.

The Security Council welcomes the commitment of the AU and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to fully assume the responsibilities stemming from its role as Guarantor of the Arusha Agreement, as well as that of the region not to stand-by in case the situation deteriorates.

In this regard, the Security Council welcomes the decision of the AU to immediately deploy human rights observers and other civilian personnel; to deploy AU military experts to verify the process of disarming of all armed youth groups allied with political parties, which will submit regular reports on the implementation of the disarmament process, and to deploy an AU election observer mission if conditions for the organization of free, fair, transparent and credible elections are met. The Council urges the Government of Burundi and other relevant actors to extend their full cooperation to these processes.

The Security Council also welcomes the AU PSC's decision to send, by the first week of July, a ministerial delegation including the Commission, to assess the implementation of the conditions required by EAC, the AU and the Council for the holding of the elections.

The Council calls on the Electoral Mission of the United Nations in Burundi (MENUB) to fully and actively pursue the implementation of its mandate in accordance with Resolution 2137 (2014) including to swiftly report to the Security Council before, during and after the elections.

The Security Council reiterates its concern about the difficult situation of the Burundian refugees who fled their country into the neighboring States, commends the host countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania), as well as humanitarian agencies, for their support to the affected populations, and calls upon the international community to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance. The Council urges the Government of Burundi to create the conditions conducive to their early return.

The Security Council calls on all actors in the region the preserve the safety and security of populations in the region."

 On June 25 at the UN Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask, about Burundi, one of the Vice-Presidents, Gervais Rufyikiri, has fled the country, and he said that after he came out in opposition to the current President running for a third term, he left in fear of his life to Belgium.  So I wanted know, that seems pretty… he’s an elected official, etc.  One, is the UN doing anything to provide protection to people that feel under such threats within the country or trying to arrange for it?  And what’s the UN — how does this reflect on the dialogue the UN is trying to create?

Question:  Well, first of all, regarding the Vice-President, you’ll have seen, of course, there have been other people who have also fled the country, and you’ll have seen the concerns we expressed at the time and those concerns remain the case.  We want all the people of Burundi to be able to live without fear and we want, in particular, for the people who are going to be voting in any forthcoming elections to be able to do so without fear and to have the assurance that any elections will be free and inclusive.

Regarding the dialogue on Burundi, that dialogue, which resumed on 23 June, has, in fact, continued today with the Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily’s participation.  Meanwhile, in New York, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, met this morning with the Permanent Representative of Burundi to discuss the state of the electoral process.

  And what is coming of these quiet UN moves?

 On June 24 at the UN in New York Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN and presumably for UN envoy Bathily, video here:

Inner City Press: on Burundi, I wanted to ask, there was — yesterday it was said that the ruling party of Burundi would not take part in these most recent talks with Mr. [Abdoulaye)] Bathily.  Now it's said that the Government is but the ruling party isn't.  What's the status of those talks and the CNDD-FDD?  And also it was reported that journalists were blocked from going to this Musaga area where a lot of crackdown is taking place.  Is Mr. Bathily aware of that, and does he have any comment on it?

Spokesman:  I don't know if he's aware of that.  We will check.  Mr. Bathily is just starting his work.  He's having discussions with various parties.  I think it's still a very fluid situation, as we all know, but he is continuing — he's continuing his work.

Question:  But, I mean, I'm sure you've seen the — like, yesterday they had  an event, and [UN PBC chair Seger]  said that he spoke with the ambassador here.  So it seems to me that the Secretariat is aware of the ruling party's position to not take part in…

Spokesman:  No, I understand.  But I think those things are being discussed locally.  They're being discussed on the ground, I think on, more than on a daily basis, so I don't want to speak for Mr. Bathily at this point.

  Afterward, Dujarric told Inner City Press:

"On your question on Burundi, I was just handed an update which says that the political dialogue resumed on 23 June, which, by my calendar, is yesterday, and continued today with the facilitation of the African Union, the East African Community, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and the United Nations.  The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Bathily, is representing the UN in the dialogue.  Participants who participate in the dialogue previously facilitated attended the meetings with the exception of the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, its allies in the Copa and Sangwe Pader.  Today the Minister of the Interior represented the Government at the meeting.  We encourage all political parties that have yet to join the dialogue to join it and help reach consensus on the way forward."

  In New York, the International Peace Institute set up for June 23 an event with two UN officials on “lessons learned” from Burundi. Inner City Press went to the event, YouTube here.

  At IPI, Inner City Press asked why the UN was so reticent to discuss the Constitutionality of the third term, why it had stayed quiet on the arming of the ruling party's youth wing and, at the level of Ban Ki-moon, on the closing of radio stations and chasing out of the country of journalists. Inner City Press also asked why the UN Peacekeeping of Herve Ladsous keeps using Burundi security forces who have cracked down on unarmed civilians.

  Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Burundi, gave a lengthy and passionate answer.

  Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, said that Ban Ki-moon HAS spoken about media freedom in Burundi. If so, it's been muted -- and takes place as Ban's own security detail removed Inner City Press from an open meeting "organized" by Herve Ladsous last week.

  The IPI event ended up being interesting and Inner City Press is glad it went, and that is has been told, from high up, that this will continue in the future. We'll see.

While UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson was at the African Union summit in Johannesburg where Burundi was discussed, Burundian independent media wrote to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the crackdown against them, sending to a copy to Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, which is now online here.

 On June 16, after first declining to confirm receipt, the UN said the letter was received or "logged in." But what will be done? FUNCA has asked again, after Ban's own