Egypt says abstained in vote on UN police to Burundi without govt consent

Ahram Online , Sunday 31 Jul 2016

The resolution in the UN Security Council passed Friday with 11 votes; Egypt says peacekeeping should not be imposed, but rather based on government consent

Amr Abul Atta
Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN, Amr Abul Atta said Cairo put forward alternative proposals of “conciliatory wordings” to the resolution to deploy UN police in Burundi but was rejected by some delegations. (Photo: UN)

Egypt said it abstained from a UN Security Council vote to deploy a UN police force to Burundi for fear the resolution would bring the council into confrontation with the country’s authorities which has not yet consented to the UN's proposals.

The council on Friday authorised the deployment of a 228-strong UN police contingent to the capital Bujumbura in a move to try to end more than a year of violence in the central African country.

Egypt, which currently holds a non-permanent seat on the council, was among four countries on the 15-member council that abstained from the vote.

The resolution passed with 11 votes in favour.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement late Saturday that Egypt abstained because the resolution was to be passed “without consultation with Burundi’s government, which brings the Security Council into confrontation with the government instead of backing it.”

Egypt stressed the need to take into consideration Burundi’s position on the matter to “ensure its cooperation in implementing” the decision.

Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN, Amr Abul Atta, said Cairo put forward a number of alternative proposals of “conciliatory wordings” but were rejected by some delegations who insisted on passing the resolution in its current form.

“The approval of hosting countries to deploy UN forces is one of the main principles of deploying peace keepers,” the ministry statement added.

“The mission of peacekeeping by definition is to ‘preserve’ peace not to impose it on conflict parties.”

More than 500 people have been killed in Burundi and tens of thousands fled the country since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

The turmoil has sparked fears of a deeper plunge into violence similar to the 1993 genocide in the country when tens of thousands of Burundians - mostly members of the Tutsi minority - were killed by Hutu rebels.

This is not the first time Egypt has abstained from voting in the council since it assumed its two-year membership representing north Africa on the council last January.

In March, Cairo was the only country to abstain from voting on a resolution on the repatriation of peacekeeping units whose soldiers face allegations of sexual abuse. It said at the time that the measures passed amounted to the libeling and "branding of entire states,” putting forward amendments to the criteria of repatriation that were not adopted.

Earlier this month, Cairo also blocked condemnation of the violence and unrest in Turkey, objecting to the wording of a statement that called on all parties to "respect the democratically elected government of Turkey.”

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