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UN Security Council unanimously condemns Burundi violence

The UN Security Council has threatened possible sanctions against Burundi over the wave of deadly political violence in the country. The draft resolution also raises the possibility of deploying peacekeeping troops.

All 15 members of the Council supported the French-drafted resolution on Burundi on Thursday, urging calm in the East African nation.

The Bujumbura government has been accused of carrying out a violent crackdown against the opposition, including torture, arrests and killings. Last week, people wearing police uniforms killed a UN employee and eight others in a bar in the capital.

The draft resolution strongly condemned "all public statements, coming from in or outside of the country, that appear aimed at inciting violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society."

The Security Council also asked UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to deploy a team to Burundi and report in 15 days with options for boosting the UN presence in the country.

"We need to look at the whole range of tools that the United Nations has at its disposal, including potentially peacekeeping forces, but also other measures including further political pressure on the parties," British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who is chairing the Security Council in November, told reporters.

Those measures could also include sanctions, according to Rycroft.

Ghosts of Rwanda

Watch video 01:22

Burundi crisis: Return to civil war?

Over 250 people have died and some 200,000 fled the country since April, when Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term.

The president has since won an election boycotted by the main opposition parties and survived a military coup attempt. However, many international observers worry that a political conflict could turn into an ethnic war between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic communities living in the country.

Similar conflicts between the two groups sparked a genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994, claiming 800,000 lives.

"We know that in the worst case what we are talking about is a possible genocide and we know that we need to do everything that we possibly can to prevent that," said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.

Burundi only ended a civil war between Hutu rebels and a Tutsi led army in 2005.

Boots on the ground

Several Western countries and the United Nations are working on emergency plans to rush UN peacekeepers from neighboring Congo or to deploy a regional force controlled by the African Union.

"Our goal is not to have to get to that point, but our primary objective, of course, is to ensure that Burundi does not descend into mass violence," Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters on Thursday.

The UN, EU, and African Union also called for a meeting between the representatives of President Nkurunziza and the opposition to be held outside of the country, possibly in Uganda or Ethiopia.

dj/jm (dpa, AP, Reuters, AFP)

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