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On Burundi, UNSC Elements to the Press Don't Say Coup or Sanctions, Of IMF

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14, 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.

After a closed door meeting of the UN Security Council early Thursday afternoon, the Security Council's President for May, Lithuania's Permanent Representative Raimonda Murmokaite read out “elements to the press," the weakest form of Council action.

  “The members of the Security Council were briefed by the Secretary General’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, about developments in Burundi. Members of the Security Council condemned violent unrest in Burundi and specifically condemned both those who facilitate violence of any kind against civilians, and those who seek to seize power by unlawful means,” she said, notably not using the word "coup."

  (Moments later, Al Jazeera English reported that the UN Security Council had "condemned the coup.")

  “The members of the Security Council called on all parties not to resort to violence and to prioritize peace and security. The members of the Security Council called for the swift return to the rule of law and holding of credible elections in the spirit of the Arusha agreements. The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their full support to the efforts of United Nations special envoy Said Djinnit, the African Union and East African Community,” Murmokaite continued.

  Inner City Press asked Murmokaite if Djinnit is in any contact with General Niyombare; she relied about Djinnit expressing an intention to return to Burundi.

  “The members of the Security Council expressed their intent to respond to violent attacks in Burundi that threaten peace and security. Members of the Security Council have expressed their intention to remain seized of the matter,” she concluded. The words sanctions or "measures" weren't used.

  Nkurunziza's failure to yet return to Burundi is due not only to control of the airport -- sources tell Inner City Press that the pilots of the plane he used were unwilling to fly to a closed airport. The sources say Nkurunziza sold the country's airplane and now rents.

  Likewise the sources tell Inner City Press that Team Nkurunziza withdrew $9 million from the country's "Contingent Owned Equipment" fund for serving as peacekeepers in Somalia: where are those funds now, they ask?

 On May 14, Inner City Press has asked the International Monetary Fund's spokesperson Gerry Rice at the IMF biweekly embargoed briefing:

"On Burundi, after the IMF's announcement of $6.9 million in the run up to elections, now with General Godefroid Niyombare saying Pierre Nkurunziza is no longer in power, what is the status of the IMF's funds and program, when will it be reviewed?"

  Rice took this question and replied that the "IMF is following the current developments in Burundi very closely.  The Fund-supported program that was recently approved, it's fair to say that given the current security situation, the timing of our next discussions with the authorities has yet to be determined."

 Tw weeks ago on April 30, the IMF told Inner City Press on Burundi

"Many thanks for your question. Please see our line  below:

'We are continuing to monitor developments in Burundi. Regarding the ECF-supported program that was recently approved, our next meeting with the authorities is tentatively scheduled to take place in June, at which time we will assess progress toward the completion of the 7th review.'"

 So, no more June? Watch this site.

 On May 15, the UN Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi is set to hear from UN DPA chief Jeff Feltman. (Inner City Press asked Feltman about it on the morning of May 14; he was not aware).  On Monday they heard from Minister Nduwimana - where is he now?

 Inner City Press was told by one member of the Configuration that they will be going to Burundi. Watch this site.

  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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