UN rights body to hold special session on Burundi

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 3:59 PM

GENEVA (AP) — Following a U.S. initiative, the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session next week to discuss Burundi, an east African country facing a wave of violence in recent months.

Backed by 42 countries, the United States issued a formal request Friday for the extraordinary session at the nine-year-old human rights body based in Geneva. The special session is to take place Thursday. Nearly all of the HRC member states supporting the initiative were Western or European, and only one African country did: Ghana.

Keith Harper, the U.S. ambassador to the council, told The Associated Press the United States pushed for the special session on Burundi "to prevent it from taking an additional turn toward chaos, which is a distinct possibility."

"What is needed in Burundi is for the parties — particularly the government — to take this seriously and start walking down the road to a political settlement," he said.

Earlier Friday, gunmen stormed three military installations in Burundi and at least 15 people were killed as gunfire and explosions rocked the capital.

The U.N. says at least 240 people have been killed since April in Burundi and about 215,000 others have fled.