The United Nations Security Council has endorsed South African efforts to restore peace and stability to the central African nation of Burundi.
In a formal resolution, the Security Council unanimously endorsed the work of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has helped to develop a plan to end Burundi's eight-year old civil war. Burundi has been deeply divided in ethnic conflict involving the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis. Under the peace plan, leaders of both groups will share power in a transitional government starting this Thursday.
However, some Hutu rebel groups have rejected the plan and the South African government is sending 700 peacekeeping troops to assist the transitional government. The Security Council resolution endorses the South African-led peacekeeping mission that will be supplemented by troops from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
South Africa's ambassador to the United Nations, Dumisani Kumalo thanked the Council for its support and told reporters why South Africa is involved in Burundi. "We believe that we have a responsibility to become engaged in the issues of Africa in trying to bring about peace," he said. "So we hope that our efforts in Burundi, by sending this protection force to protect the political leaders will contribute to peace in Burundi."
This is South Africa's first international peacekeeping operation since the end of apartheid.
In addition to endorsing the peace plan, The U.N. Security Council also called on the international community to provide additional economic assistance to the transitional government in Burundi.