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On Burundi, US Friday Night Statement Threatens Visa Denials, Enough?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 17 -- When you go to the UN's 38th floor these days, you might meet a government official who justified the killing of unarmed civilians, having a photo op with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

 So it was on April 14, when Burundi's Minister of the Interior Edouard Nduwimana held a meeting with Ban, his chief of staff and Department of Political Affairs officials. Inner City Press went to the photo op and tweeted out a photo.

 After that, the UN Security Council held closed door consultations on Burundi, after which no Council member spoke on UNTV. UN briefers spoke to Inner City Press off-camera. And now, past 8 pm on Friday ("garbage time"), there was a statement from the UNSC - followed only then by this from the US:

The United States is deeply concerned by the rising tensions in Burundi in advance of general elections beginning in May that, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, have led over 8,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries to escape intimidation and violence, including by the youth militias of the ruling party.  

The United States calls on all parties in Burundi to play a constructive and peaceful role in this electoral process and to refrain from any acts, including hate speech, violence, or other provocations, that could feed the climate of fear and instability.  We call on the national police, the Burundian military, and all security force personnel to provide security in an impartial manner throughout the electoral process and to protect civilians from intimidation and other abuses.

The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take steps, including, where appropriate, by denying U.S. visas to individuals who order, plan, or participate in acts of violence.  Violence has no place in democratic elections, and perpetrators of such violence will not be welcome in the United States.  We call on the Government of Burundi to hold all perpetrators accountable in accordance with due process of law.

The United States continues to support the Burundian people's peaceful pursuit of their democratic rights and freedoms and reiterates its support for peaceful, free, transparent, timely and credible elections in Burundi.


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