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On Burundi, US Supports EAC, Make Visa Denial Threat, Lethargy by Penholder

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 13, with video -- Amid the protests and crackdown after Pierre Nkurunziza was nominated to run for a third term as President in seeming violation of the Arusha Peace Accord, on May 13 General Godefroid Niyombare announced the ouster of Nkurunziza while the latter was, like UN envoy Said Djinnit, in Tanzania for the East African Community meeting.

  On the evening of May 13, the US State Department through its Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf (with John Kirby set to take over the top spot vacate by Jen Psaki) issued this:

"The United States is deeply concerned by today’s developments in Burundi.  We call on all parties to immediately end the violence, to exercise restraint, and above all to prioritize peace in Burundi.  We support East African Community leaders’ call today for peaceful, democratic elections in line with Burundi’s electoral laws and the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.

"We urge all stakeholders to take the steps necessary to create the conditions required for peaceful, timely, credible and transparent elections, and to respect the rule of law, including those provisions of Burundian law regarding civilian rule.

"The Arusha Agreement was about ending years of violence and civil war in Burundi.  It is essential for all Burundians – both military and civilian – to uphold the spirit of this agreement and reject violence.  The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely, and will, as appropriate, refuse U.S. visas to those who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population."

 Throughout May 13 Inner City Press asked the Presidency of the UN Security Council for May, Lithuania, when Burundi might be addressed. At the luncheon with the Secretary General was the first response.

 Then after five p.m. Inner City Press asked Lithuania's Permanent Representative to the UN, who replied there will be an emergency meeting on Burundi on May 14 after the Council's previously scheduled meeting on Iraq; Said Djinnit will brief.

 But what will he say?

 On May 15, the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi is set to hear from UN DPA chief Jeff Feltman. On Monday they heard from Minister Nduwimana - where is he now?

  The UN Security Council was late in meeting on events in Burundi - the penholder was less than vocal against the proposed third term - and one wonders how slow they will be on this coup.

  Inner City Press sources have told it that France's Ambassador to Burundi had been telling the opposition they should just accept the third term, allegedly in exchange for other "reforms." Now this.

On May 12, Inner City Press had asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask one follow-up on Burundi.  There's been a decision or announcement by a number of European countries to not actually pay funds they were going to pay for the upcoming elections.  Since there's a UN electoral mission there, is that… what does the mission think?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I'll get a… I have not gotten anything from them.

  That's today's UN.

On May 11, the UN Peacebuilding Configuration for Burundi met and sought answers from Burundi's minister by video.

  Asking questions were Swiss Permanent Representative Paul Seger and his counterparts from Belgium and Tanzania, Ambassador Manongi, as well as the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson. France, the penholder on Burundi in the UN Security Council, did not send its Permanent Representative Francois Delattre nor his Deputy Alexis Lamec.

  Questions were raised about the armed youth wing, the crackdown on media, the outward flows of refugees. The responses were generally dismissive -- Wilson wondered aloud at the disparity between the Minister's denials on the youth wing and all other available information -- and on press freedom, troubling. Media is political, the minister said, justifying the crackdown.

 But what will come next? Later on May 11, the US issued a travel warning on Burundi saying among other things that "Armed groups operate in Burundi... Exchanges of gunfire and grenade attacks have increased but are usually not directed at foreigners." It's that kind of thinking that the ruling party seems to be counting on. Watch this site.


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