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France proposes 200-strong UN police force for Burundi
Published on 16-07-2016 - at 06:20' by Daily Nation

Bujumbura has said it would not accept more than 50 UN police officers, but negotiations are ongoing on the proposed larger force.

France presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Friday that calls for deploying up to 228 UN police to Burundi to monitor human rights and help quell violence in the African country.

The draft measure, obtained by AFP, said the force would be deployed in Bujumbura and throughout Burundi for an initial period of one year, but that the size and mandate could change if violence worsens.

It remains unclear whether the government of Burundi would give its consent for the deployment, which would be required for the UN force to be dispatched.

Bujumbura has said it would not accept more than 50 UN police officers, but negotiations are ongoing on the proposed larger force.

Russia and Egypt have said they will support a UN police force only if the Bujumbura government agrees to its deployment.

The UN police force would be tasked with monitoring security and human rights in coordination with African Union rights observers and military experts.

Burundi has agreed to allow 100 AU rights observers and 100 AU military experts into the country to monitor the crisis, but fewer than 50 have in fact begun work on the ground.

The draft resolution urges the government to speed up the deployment of the AU monitors and to enter into dialogue with all opposition groups including "those outside the country" to end the crisis.

Political talks scheduled to open this week in Tanzania collapsed when the government refused to sit down with some opponents in exile.

The Security Council is under pressure to take action in Burundi, where the descent into violence has raised fears of mass atrocities, similar to those that convulsed neighboring Rwanda in 1994.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

More than 500 people have died, many of them in extrajudicial killings blamed on Burundian police, security forces and militias linked to the ruling party, according to the United Nations.

At least 270,000 people have fled the country.

The French text builds on a resolution adopted in April that asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to come up with options for the new police force.

Ban had proposed three options ranging from a full force of 3,000 officers to a light dispatch of 20 to 50, and warned that the situation in Burundi remained "alarmingly precarious."

In a report, Ban had argued that a force of 228 police officers would be able to provide early warning to help avoid a major bloodletting, but that it was insufficient to ensure protection of civilians.

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People pray around the coffin of former Burundian minister Hafsa Mossi at her funeral in Bujumbura on July 13, 2016. France presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Friday that calls for deploying up to 228 UN police to Burundi to monitor human rights and help quell violence in the African country.

Kwamamaza
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