8325th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Burundi

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SIX OFFICIAL 09-Aug-2018 01:17:41
Briefing Security Council, Special Envoy for Burundi says new constitution, president’s actions create opportunity to end political crisis at 8325th meeting.
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The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Burundi asked the Security Council today to appeal to all sides in the East African nation to participate — in good faith — in a fifth and potentially final inter‑Burundi dialogue that would build on recent developments and, hopefully, take place as soon as possible.

Michel Kafando’s quarterly briefing to Council members was the first since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced on 7 June — when he promulgated a new Constitution approved by 73 per cent of voters in a referendum on 17 May — that he would not seek an additional term in office when elections take place in 2020. He also pledged to support his successor.

The Special Envoy drew attention to a 3 August workshop of Burundian political actors that produced a road map leading to the 2020 elections, as well as to his meetings with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and with the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa — the mediator and the facilitator, respectively, of the inter‑Burundi dialogue process led by the East African Community.

Emphasizing the importance of the new Constitution and the President’s statements, he said both developments created an opportunity to make progress towards a final settlement of a political crisis that dates to 2015 when protests erupted following Mr. Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a further term in office.

Summarizing recent developments, he said the security situation in Burundi remains calm, and that 35,000 refugees have returned to Burundi from Tanzania since September 2017. A series of high‑level visits meanwhile demonstrated the Government’s willingness to improve relations with the international community, he said, adding that he hopes Burundi and the European Union will soon resume talks leading to the lifting of European sanctions.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members welcomed the President’s declaration that he would not seek re‑election, praised the role being played most notably by the East African Community and looked forward to free and fair elections in 2020. At the same time, however, several delegates voiced concern over the human rights situation and called for the Government to resume cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

France’s representative, for one, said the situation in Burundi remains volatile. “There is a lack of real inclusive dialogue,” she stated, expressing concern that militia groups continue to spread violence. She stressed the need to fight impunity including in all ranks of the security forces, adding that it is essential that fundamental liberties be restored for all citizens.

In the same vein, the Netherlands’ delegate pointed to ongoing human rights violations — including assassinations, murders, arbitrary arrests and politically motivated kidnappings. She encouraged the Government to end impunity and guarantee the rights of all Burundians.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative said the international community must look at the situation in a “broad manner” while respecting Burundi’s sovereignty. “Stability and development in Burundi has consequences for the entire Great Lakes region,” he said. The situation in Burundi must be resolved through inclusive dialogue, he added, with regional actors contributing positively in supporting such efforts.

Ethiopia’s delegate said the political impasse in Burundi can only be addressed through peaceful, inclusive and consensual dialogue. The lack of progress in the East African Community‑led mediation is a matter of concern, she added, stressing the need to relaunch dialogue based on the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 2000. For its part, she said, the Government should engage with the international community in an open‑minded manner.

Côte d’Ivoire’s speaker urged Burundian authorities to take the necessary measures to build confidence, reduce political tensions and resume dialogue based on the Arusha Agreement. Expressing concern over the plight of Burundi refugees, he said a better economic situation will create opportunities for returnees. He added that his country strongly supports opening an office of the Secretary‑General in Burundi.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he regretted that the Council did not hear from the Permanent Representative of Switzerland in his capacity as head of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. His delegation does not share the alarmist view held by other Council members, who he wondered might be playing into the hands of the Burundian opposition, he added, warning against the imposition of ready‑made solutions.

Burundi’s delegate said he regrets that a minority of Council members do not share the Special Envoy’s view of the pace of developments in his country. Their tendency to distance themselves from the Envoy, most Member States and the real situation on the ground demonstrates that they are prisoners of the rhetoric of 2015. The inter‑Burundi dialogue now is part of the country’s culture and those who want the Government to promote it are preaching to the choir, he added.

On the human rights situation, he reiterated the Government’s willingness to work with the United Nations and others to promote human rights through sincere and frank dialogue. Talk of a supposed lack of cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights is misinformation. He went on to appeal for the Council to have the courage to remove Burundi from its agenda, saying the political situation is calm, stable, under control and by no means a threat to international peace and security.

“This hounding of Burundi must stop,” he said, otherwise history will show that the Council has been acting unfairly on behalf of non‑African and non‑Burundian interests. Burundi’s place is not in the Council Chamber, but in those agencies of the United Nations responsible for social and economic development.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, Sweden, United States, Kazakhstan, China, Poland, Peru, Bolivia and the United Kingdom.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:22 a.m.
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2215002
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2215146