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UN, EU, AU Say Urgent Need for Talks on Burundi Crisis

  • VOA News

Burundian police and soldiers guard a deserted street in Bujumbura, Nov. 8, 2015. The United Nations, African Union and European Union are calling for talks between Burundi's government and the opposition to resolve the country's deepening political crisis.

Burundian police and soldiers guard a deserted street in Bujumbura, Nov. 8, 2015. The United Nations, African Union and European Union are calling for talks between Burundi's government and the opposition to resolve the country's deepening political crisis.

The United Nations, African Union and European Union are calling for talks between Burundi's government and the opposition to resolve the country's deepening political crisis.

In a joint statement Thursday top officials of all three bodies said it is urgent that the sides meet, either in the Ethiopian or Ugandan capitals, under the mediation of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday calling for an end to violence in Burundi and threatening sanctions against anyone who stands in the way of the search for a peaceful solution.

The measure expresses concern about "ongoing escalation of insecurity" in Burundi and the lack of dialogue among its parties.

Diplomats in New York have said the U.N. could rush peacekeepers into Burundi if calm does not return soon to the East African nation.

Authorities in Burundi, however, say the country is "not in flames," and that there is no chance of mass murder.

"The Security Council has come together in the course of this week to ensure we do everything possible to increase the pressure on the authorities in Bujumbura and warn against the dangers of mass atrocities," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said Wednesday.

The African Union also could intervene in Burundi with a peacekeeping force.

Violence erupted in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term, a move the opposition called unconstitutional. Nkurunziza was re-elected in July in a vote the opposition boycotted.

Election-related violence has killed at least 240 people and sent tens of thousands fleeing for their lives across the border.

The United States, European Union and Burundi's African neighbors fear the violence could result in another civil war between Tutsis and Hutus - the same kind of fighting that brought on the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.

White House officials say President Barack Obama spoke of his "deep concern" about the situation in Burundi in a conversation Wednesday with South African President Jacob Zuma.

Obama asked Zuma to keep working with others in the region to call for calm and push for talks to bring an end to the crisis.

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