The United Nations’ Security Council has strongly condemned any attempt to overthrow the government of Burundi, where the military has apparently forced the president from power.

President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya – an ethnic Hutu – has taken refuge at the U-S ambassador’s residence in the capital after Tutsi paratroopers were positioned at government offices.

The United States has offered military assets – such as airlift capacity – but no troops to the African country.

The U-N Security Council has issued an official statement expressing its worries about the events in Burundi at an open meeting to discuss the situation.

“The Security Council is gravely concerned at recent information on political developments in Burundi. It strongly condemns any attempt to overthrow the present legitimate government by force or coup d’etat.”
SUPER CAPTION: Alain Dejammet, UN Security Council President

It has appealed to all parties to cease violence immediately.

” It appeals to all parties involved in the conflict in Burundi to immediately cease all violence and to cooperate with whoever tries to help with ending the violence. I appeal to all parties to be moderate and I demand that the authorities of Burundi to proceed to avoid massacre.”
SUPER CAPTION: Alain Dejammet, UN Security Council president

The U-S ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright attended the meeting and also condemned the violence.

She says the U-S won’t tolerate a government installed by force.

“This cycle of violence in Burundi must cease. Extremists cannot not be allowed to set the agenda. The international community will not acquiesce in efforts to solve Burundi’s crisis by military means. I wish forcefully to restate the US government’s position that under no circumstances would we tolerate a government installed by force or intimidation in Burundi and we would work to isolate such a government , constitutional processes must continue to be followed.”
SUPER CAPTION: Madeleine Albright, U-S ambassador to the United Nations

U-N officials have been discussing plans for a multinational peacekeeping force which would be sent to Burundi if the situation deteriorates, but have received few offers of troops.

The United States has said it would not be sending troops either, but did offer some assistance.

The UN’s Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Kofi Annan thinks it is acceptable for the international organisation to intervene especially following the tragic circumstances in Rwanda.

“I don’t think the international community can be seen as not acting. As it is history will judge us rather severely for Rwanda and I don’t think we can repeat that experience in Burundi. I think everybody is concerned , I think everybody is aware of the urgency, I think everybody will want to see something done. What we need and we are seeking now is a political will to act.”
SUPER CAPTION: Kofi Annan UN’s Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping

He doesn’t think the U-N should wait.

“I think if the operation is chapter seven, we don’t need to wait for an invitation or consent. I think over the last few years the council and the world has made it quite clear that it is no longer acceptable for leaders – you know, cruel leaders – to hide behind sovereignty and national borders and brutalise their own population. And if the international community comes to that judgement I don’t think we need to wait for consent or invitation.”
SUPER CAPTION: Kofi Annan, UN’s Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping

It now remains to be seen whether such statements will be followed by action.

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