The Security Council today extended for another year the United Nations political mission in Burundi, calling for full support for next year's elections in the war-scarred African country while voicing concern at continuing human rights violations, sexual and gender-based violence, restrictions on civil liberties and political violence.
In a unanimous resolution, the 15-member body called on the Government to fight corruption and impunity, professionalize and enhance the capacity of the national security services and the police, and broaden the respect and protection of human rights.
The UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), set up in 2006 to assist efforts towards peace and stability after decades of factional and ethnic fighting between Hutus and Tutsis killed hundreds of thousands of people, is now set to run until 31 December 2010.
The Council called on the Office to “pay particular attention on supporting the electoral process, democratic governance, the consolidation of peace, sustainable reintegration and gender issues,” providing logistical support to the country's national electoral commission if required. It called on the Government “to take the necessary measures to create an environment conducive to the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2010.”
It also requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “in particular through BINUB to play a robust political role in support of all facets of the peace process, in full coordination with sub-regional, regional and international partners.”
It noted with concern “the continuing human rights violations and restrictions on civil liberties, including restrictions on the freedom of assembly and expression of the political opposition and representatives of civil society,” while “expressing equal concern for the reports of violence perpetuated by youth groups associated with some political parties.”
In his latest report to the Council earlier this month, Mr. Ban voiced similar concerns and noted that while the peace process had witnessed significant progress in recent months, Burundi needed help to ensure successful elections and tackle challenges such as human rights abuses, corruption and weak institutions.
Last week, the Council called on the international community to support the preparation of elections after Mr. Ban's Executive Representative Youssef Mahmoud said a lack of funding was challenging the “significant advances” already made, warning that $3 million was needed by the end of December to help the electoral commission to carry out its most pressing tasks.