UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he is gravely concerned by developments in Burundi, while condemning attempts to topple the elected government by military force.
Violent protests erupted after Burundi’s ruling party nominated incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza in April as its candidate to run for the presidential election scheduled for June 26. Nkurunziza is in his second term as president. His opponents maintain that his candidacy for a third term would be a violation of the country’s 2005 constitution.
Burundi plunged into chaos as former head of Burundi’s National Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare, announced in a radio station that the army had overthrown the president and stakeholders were working on a transitional government.
“The secretary-general is gravely concerned by developments in Burundi since the announcement of the electoral candidacy of President Nkurunziza and especially in the aftermath of the May 13 declaration of a coup d’tat,” said a statement released by Ban’s spokesperson on Thursday.
“The secretary-general now urgently calls for calm and restraint,” Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying. “He urges all political and security leaders to clearly and openly reject the use of violence, refrain from acts of revenge, and rein in their militants.”
“In this regard, he has full confidence that the Security Council will consider the various tools at its disposal in examining the situation in Burundi, including regarding accountability,” said the statement.
At the time of the coup attempt, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza was on his way to Tanzania to attend the East African Community (EAC) extraordinary summit to discuss the political stand-off in his country.
Nkurunziza’s whereabouts are still unknown. Reports from Burundi said there was heavy gunfire and that shelling was underway in capital Bujumbura between the opposition troops and soldiers loyal to President Nkurunziza.
The statement also noted through Ban’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Said Djinnit, the UN would continue to work closely with the EAC, the African Union and other partners in joint efforts to help resolve the crisis in Burundi.