France seeks UN action to halt Burundi killings

New York -France on Monday presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council aimed at toughening the international response to the violence in Burundi, where fears of Rwanda-style mass killings are rife.
The measure threatens targeted sanctions against Burundian leaders who foment violence or hamper efforts to end the crisis that followed protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term.
“We are extremely worried by what we are seeing in Burundi at this moment: this increase of political violence and the extremely alarming ethnically-based hate speech,” French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek told reporters.
The draft text, obtained by AFP, calls on the government and all sides to “reject any kind of violence” and strongly condemns the killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and other rights violations in Burundi.
At an emergency council meeting called by France, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe defended his government and said the “country was calm” except for some pockets of Burundi’s capital Bujumbura where “small groups of criminals are active.”
“Burundi is not burning,” Nyamitwe told the council by video conference from the capital.
The foreign minister urged the council not to resort to sanctions, calling them “ineffective” and maintained that the government was holding a dialogue with the opposition, as demanded by the United Nations.
On Monday, two people were killed and a policeman wounded in gun battles in Bujumbura, just days after a UN employee was among nine people killed at a bar by armed men in police uniform.
Burundi has been rocked by violence since Nkurunziza launched the controversial bid to prolong his term in office in April, with more than 200 000 people fleeing the country.
Police have launched a huge security operation in the capital’s opposition districts searching for weapons after an ultimatum to give up arms expired Saturday.
Many residents of those districts have fled the capital, nearly emptying areas that have seen some of the worst violence in recent months.

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