Thursday, 22 November 2018

UN Envoy Urges New Way To Help Burundi Exit Political Crisis

The UN special envoy for Burundi called for a re-evaluation of the ways to help the African nation emerge from its current political crisis on Wednesday, with a view to elections in 2020.


Michel Kafando told the Security Council that tensions remain high between the government and opposition, there is a "deficit of trust" between the political opponents, and "hate speech" continues against opposition figures.

Burundi was plagued by political violence following President Pierre Nkurunziza's announcement in April 2015 that he would seek a disputed third term. Nkurunziza won re-election despite widespread protests.

A referendum earlier this year approved changes to the constitution that would allow Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005, another 14 years after his current term expires in 2020. But in June he announced that he would not run for another term and will support the winner of the 2020 election.
UN Envoy Urges New Way To Help Burundi Exit Political Crisis
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a new report to the council that since August "the overall security situation remained generally calm, amid the discovery by police of weapons and ammunition, as well as reported cases of murder, arbitrary arrests and disappearances." He also cited reports of attacks on villages and military positions by unidentified armed men.

The UN chief said the government's decision not to attend the fifth session of the inter-Burundian dialogue on October 25 and the dialogue's "lack of significant progress ... towards a lasting resolution of the 2015 crisis remains a matter of serious concern."

"Furthermore, grave concerns continue to be expressed with regard to violations and abuses of human rights across the country," Guterres said.

He stressed that while the political dialogue is now shifting toward preparations for the 2020 elections, "all parties should be aware that lasting peace can only be achieved and sustained if a spirit of compromise and the principles of the rule of law are applied in the overall governance of the state."

Kafando said that apart from some parties allied to the government, "the democratic space remains restricted" in Burundi.

He told the council that "the secretary-general deplores the unacceptable statements by representatives of Burundi's government" against a report by the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry that indicated serious rights violations, including crimes against humanity, "had persisted in Burundi in 2017 and 2018."

Kafando said "the situation remains fragile" not only due to the lack of an inclusive political dialogue but due to humanitarian, economic and financial difficulties, as well as security threats.

After three years of efforts to promote an inter-Burundian dialogue, he said, Burundians themselves need to re-evaluate ways to end the political crisis. Subsequently, he said, the regional East African Community group should also do a re-evaluation at its upcoming summit.

"Based on the outcome, the United Nations, African Union, and East African Community should proceed to re-evaluate their commitments to help Burundi emerge from the crisis once and for all, above all with a view to the 2020 elections," Kafando said.

Burundi's UN Ambassador Albert Shingiro called the situation in Burundi "calm, stable, entirely under our control," saying "the 2015 crisis is over and behind us."

He stressed Burundi's "promotion and protection of human rights."

"Promotion is a long, arduous process with many obstacles on the way," he said. "For Burundi, the path is still a long one and the willingness is there."

Shingiro told the council the elections will be funded by Burundians and will be democratic and inclusive, saying preparations "are taking place in a calm and serene climate."




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