UN Warns of Burundi Election Violence

UN Warns of Burundi Election Violence

The UN Security Council warned that upcoming elections in Burundi could turn violent and vowed to take action against those who are fomenting unrest.

The 15 member council called on the government and the opposition to refrain from acts of violence and intimidation ahead of the May parliamentary vote and the presidential polls that will follow.

“The upcoming elections are an extremely sensitive issue that has the potential to spur violence and undermine the peace sustained for almost a decade in Burundi,” the council said in a statement.

The members vowed “to respond to any actions in Burundi that threaten the peace, security or stability in Burundi by actively facilitating violence, including by reportedly distributing weapons to youth groups.”

Burundi, a small landlocked nation in Africa’s Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from a brutal 13 year civil war.

Police on Friday fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters in Bujumbura calling for President Pierre Nkurunziza to step aside and not run for a third term.

Nkurunziza has not yet confirmed whether he intends to attempt to try stay in power.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday warned that the country was at a “crossroads” between a fair vote that would boost the country and a route back to its “horrendously violent past.”

Also Friday, the US State Department said it was deeply concerned by the rising tensions in Burundi and called on all parties “to play a constructive and peaceful role in this electoral process.”

This article originally appeared on the Capital News website.