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On Burundi, Ban Is Asked Again to Replace Djinnit, Letter Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- Nineteen days after the UN Security Council, the United States and the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi on May 15 issued statements urging calm in the country given the return of Pierre Nkurunziza to presumably run for a third term, on May 29 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous accepting an allegedly abusive Burundian police officer Godefroid Bizmama into his MINUSMA mission in Mali. Video here, and embedded below.

  Amid calls to replace UN enovy Said Djinnit as "pro-Nkurunziza," which Inner City Press has asked the UN about, on June 8 another letter went in, signed by Vital Nshimirimana. Inner City Press is putting it online here (it is in French); it explains the demand that Djinnit be replaced.

  Here is Inner City Press' translation from the French:

"Mr. Secretary General,
The crisis in Burundi is due to the obstinacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza, still determined to seek a third term against the wishes of the Burundian people and in violation of the pillars on which national institutions, namely the Arusha Accord for Peace and Reconciliation and the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi, rest.
The bloody repression of peaceful protests characterized by the discipline of protesters, who frequently since the national anthem even in the case of police aggression, has cased unspeakable consequences for political, economic and social life, just as it has gravely damaged the already fragile national security.
We are aware that dialogue is, and remains, the best means of peaceful resolution of conflicts.
If the initiative of dialogue has not produced results, it’s essentially because the mediator has not respected the elementary aspects for the conduct and realization of a fruitful dialogue during conflict, which pushes us to demand his recusal, a demand which is justified for the following reasons:
The consultations led by the special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations in the Great Lakes region, Mr. Said Djinnit, from beginning to end proved that the dialogue already begun lacked a clear agenda, since they were limited to discussing the consequences of the repression of protesters, without touching the question of what drove the people to  protest the violation of the foundational texts of actual institutions, in the occurrence of a third term
The attempt at this dialogue was made impossible by certain elements who have yet to be defined, notable the parties to the dialogue, the object of the dialogue, and the management of the proceedings. To this date, the mediator seems not to know that the parties are chiefly the groups of protesters and the government
The incapability of resolving the procedural questions, notably the liberation of hundreds of protesters who currently are held hostage by the government, the cancelation of arrest warrants against the leaders of the movement oppositing the third term, to allow them to participate in dialogue, the reopening of media, and the formal pledge by the police to not fire of protesters again
The parties to dialogue blame the serious inadequacy on the fact that he did not take into consideration the presence of leaders of the movement. In spite of the fact that this concern was shared with the mediator, he did not undertake any measure, even though he knew the role of the leaders placed under arrest warrant in the coordination of the movement. At the moment, some are wondering which criteria guided the mediator in the choice and invitation of participants to this dialogue
Communication on the content of the talks, in deadlock the night before the summit, without procedural agreement by the parties, which must have influenced the position of the summit of heads of state of the community of the east African states
Moreover, we consider that a frank and sincere dialogue is quasi impossible on national territory where certain opposition leaders or leaders of civil society cannot leave their homes to participation in the management of public affairs, while dozens of others are in exile. Hence the absolute necessity of organizing a dialogue on neutral territory, offering the necessary security guarantees for all parties taking part in dialogue.
The organizations of civil society repeat their willingness for dialogue on condition that said dialogue be carried out with sufficient guarantees and carried out under the rules, meaning impartiality, neutrality, and objectivity.
Since the mediator must be someone who inspires confidence in all the parties in the conflict, from the moment that some opposition groups have already openly stated their opposition to the mediation of Mr. Said Djinnit, we believe that it would be wiser to designate another mediator who inspires confidence in all the parties.
Counting on your unfailing attachment to the cause of peace in the world we implore you to accept, Your Excellence Mr. Secretary general, the expression of our distinguished consideration."

  Some note that Ban Ki-moon, now on travel in Central Asia but still quiet on human rights there too, gave in to requests to replace his Yemen mediator Jamal Benomar and ask, why not here? But those requests were from Saudi Arabia. Watch this site.

  On June 8, Inner City Press asked Maman S. Sidikou, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia, about Burundian forces serving in AMISOM.

  Sidikou replied that their "morale" remains high, and that one thousand are coming into Somalia from June 11 to 18. So is there no human rights due diligence for this?

  The UN claims due diligence but gives no details at all. On June 8 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On Burundi, I asked you before about Godefroid Bizimana.  Now I'm going to ask about Jérôme Ntibibogora, who is a Burundian police officer who, civil society there, say was involved in an attack against a hospital and firing at protesters.  He's set for deployment in the Central African Republic after being trained by an Italian centre known as CoESPU, a Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units.

Spokesman Dujarric:  As much as I have everybody's files and names under my fingertips, I will check…

Inner City Press: I've actually heard from the Italian mission that they've put some of their training on hold, but likewise has the UN put anything on hold of deployment of police officers from Burundi?

Spokesman:  I think we'll… you know, there is a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy and people are being screened.

Inner City Press:  But, Godefroid seems to…

Spokesman:  Has he been appointed?

Inner City Press: That's why I'm asking [about

  Early on June 8, based on more information from Inner City Press' sources in Burundi, Inner City Press asked Italy's Mission to the UN:

"In covering the crisis in Burundi, multiple sources there have informed Inner City Press that a Burundian police officer named Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA, implicated in the crackdown in Bujumbura, is now set to be deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA -- but only after he is “trained” by / in Italy.

"This a Press request for your Mission to confirm or deny that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA / NTIBIBOGORA Jérôme or any other Burundian police or military personnel involved in putting down protests to Pierre Nkurunziza's attempted third term is scheduled or considered for training or any preparatory work in Italy prior to a deployment with UN Peacekeeping.

"For your information in responding on deadline to this, Inner City Press' sources in Burundi said that Jérôme NTIBIBOGORA / NTIBIBOGORA Jérôme has so far been involved in at least two recent troubling incidents: killings at the hospital of BUMEREC (in Bujumbura) on May 14, 2015 and firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters on June 5, 2015, resulting in the death of a protester named Theogène who was a student at University of Burundi. Overall, what due diligence does Italy do in its work with UN Peacekeeping?"

  The UN Mission of Italy, running for a seat on the UN Security Council against Sweden and the Netherlands, answered also on the morning of June 8:

"Dear Mr. Lee, while at this stage I do not have any information on specific officers from Burundi, I can nevertheless confirm that any training activity by the COESPU (Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units) in Vicenza, Italy, with officers from that country, is currently on hold, due to the ongoing situation in Burundi.
Giovanni Davoli, Spokesperson, Italian Mission to the UN"

  It's appreciated. But are there Burundian officers "in the pipeline"?  Inner City Press asked: "Does “on hold” mean there are no Burundian personnel in the pipeline of your training program, to be deployed to peacekeeping missions? And, once you check in across the Atlantic, can the state the status of any of the individual named, and describe Italy's due diligence policy more generally?"

  Italian Mission spokesperson Davoli replied:

"Dear Matthew, in general, single participants, before being accepted into the courses, are screened trough the resources available to us and to our partners in COESPU, to make sure they are compatible with the values of the Center.

On this particular individual, we are checking with Italy if we have any record, which means we won’t get any more details before tomorrow. In any instances, the participation of officers from this particular country is on hold, therefore there is no Burundian in the pipeline, until further notice.

Giovanni Davoli, Spokesperson, Italian Mission to the UN"


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