UN council envoys plan visit to Burundi

(iStock)
(iStock)

United Nations - UN Security Council envoys are awaiting agreement from Burundi's government to travel to the country in January as part of a diplomatic effort to pull the nation away from the brink of war, diplomats said on Thursday.

The United States had proposed a trip to Burundi in December during its presidency of the Security Council but the mission never materialized.

"We think it's very important for the Security Council to travel to Burundi and are engaging to try to make that happen," said US Deputy Ambassador David Pressman.

"The situation is in flux, it's dangerous and merits the full attention of the council."

The council pushed ahead with its proposed visit after Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza rejected an African Union plan to deploy a peacekeeping mission to help quell the violence.

Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the visit could take place around January 15 or January 22 if Bujumbura agrees to the talks with council members.

Burundi descended into violence in April when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in a July election that he went on to win.

Hundreds have been killed and more than 200 000 have fled the country during the violence that the United Nations fears could lead to mass atrocities.

Burundi's government has yet to confirm whether it will attend a new round of talks with the opposition in Uganda scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Opening a dialogue with the opposition has been a key demand of the Security Council to end the violence.

During a visit to Burundi in March, Security Council envoys told Nkurunziza that a decision to seek a third term in office would be divisive, although Russia and China appeared more sympathetic to the government's stance.

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