UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday strongly backed the African Union's decision to investigate human rights violations in Burundi and also pledged to respond to any actions that threaten peace, security and stability in the troubled central African nation.
A presidential statement approved by all 15 members expressed deep concern at the growing insecurity and continuing rise in violence in the country including extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions.
President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision in April to seek a controversial third term, which he won, has sparked killings and arrests and triggered fear and uncertainty, leading more than 200,000 people to flee the country. Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft warned last week of a "threat of genocide" in Burundi.
The Security Council urged all those involved in violence "to reject armed rebellion to resolve the current crisis" and engage in dialogue "to spare the country and its people further suffering."
The council stressed the importance of convening an inter-Burundian dialogue including the government and all "peaceful" parties inside and outside the country "in order to find a consensual and nationally owned solution to the current crisis."
It underlined the importance of the urgent resumption of mediation efforts led by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.
The United States welcomed the council statement, especially the call for dialogue which the AU also endorsed.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is ready to support the AU, the East African Community, Museveni and the citizens of Burundi "to urgently conduct such a dialogue, which represents the best path forward to resolving the insecurity which has plagued Burundi since President Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third-term."
He said the U.S. also welcomed the council's condemnation of rights violations and violence, by government security forces as well as militias and other armed groups.