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UN vote on Burundi police force expected Friday

United Nations, United States | AFP |

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on deploying a UN police force to Burundi to monitor human rights and help quell violence in the African country.

France requested a vote on a draft resolution presented two weeks ago to send up to 228 UN police to the capital Bujumbura and throughout Burundi for an initial period of a year.

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

The draft resolution calls on the government in Burundi and all parties to “cease and reject any kind of violence.”

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 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 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 month 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.

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

The draft resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure a progressive deployment of the police force.

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