The United Nations Security Council today unanimously approved the establishment of a new operation for troubled Burundi, where the UN will deploy up to 5,650 military personnel and help the central African nation with restoring peace and bringing about national reconciliation.
Established for an initial period of six months, the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) will be deployed on1 June and include 200 military observers and 125 staff officers, a maximum of 120 civilian police personnel, as well as civilian personnel. The UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie is awaiting appointment as Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative and chief of the mission.
Praising the Council for opening "a new door in the Burundi peace process," the Secretary-General called on all the people and leaders of country to take advantage of this "unique opportunity to further pursue national reconciliation and facilitate the preparation of national elections."
In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan called on the FNL (Rwasa) to sign a ceasefire agreement and join the peace process without further delay. He encouraged donor countries to respond generously and to complement the efforts of the new peacekeeping operation.
Through the resolution adopted today, the Council decided that ONUB would initially be composed of forces from the African Union's (AU) existing African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) and would closely cooperate and share military information with the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), particularly in monitoring cross-border movements of armed elements and arms trafficking.
The Council authorized ONUB to use "all necessary means" to carry out its mandate, which, along with helping the transitional Government consolidate Burundi's recent political progress, will include ensuring respect for ceasefire agreements through monitoring their implementation and investigating their violations, promoting the re-establishment of confidence between the Burundian forces present, monitoring and providing security at their pre-disarmament assembly sites, and contributing to the dismantling of militias as called for in the ceasefire agreements.
Ahead of elections scheduled for 31 October, the mission would support the process of disarming and disbanding militia groups as well as collecting, securing and destroying weapons. It would also help to train the Burundi National Police. Other ONUB components would work to promote the rule of law, coordinate assistance in support of the elections, and report on human rights abuses.