UN prolongs mission in Burundi

The United Nations Security Council has prolonged a peacekeeping operation in Burundi for six months, but also plans to withdraw following a successful transition to peace and democracy.

A resolution was unanimously approved overnight on Wednesday extending the UN operation in Burundi’s (Onub) mandate for almost six months, from January 15 to June 30 2006.

At the same time, the council approved a proposal by Burundian authorities for a gradual withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces and a revision of its mandate.

Onub commander Derrick Mgwebi announced last week that an Onub contingent from Mozambique will be first to leave Burundi on December 28, followed in February and March by battalions from Kenya and Ethiopia.

The withdrawal of the 5 364-strong UN peacekeeping force that has been deployed in Burundi since June 12 2004 to help end a 12-year civil war is scheduled to be completed by December next year.

Burundi in August voted in a new government headed by ex-Hutu rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza as part of a regionally backed peace process aimed at ending the civil war that has claimed about 300 000 lives. — Sapa-AFP

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