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Burundi’s President asks Security Council’s help to end violence, keep peace on track

Burundi’s President asks Security Council’s help to end violence, keep peace on track

The President of Burundi, Pierre Buyoya, today asked the Security Council for help to stop the fighting in his country and to keep the peace process on track, stressing that if diplomatic efforts failed to compel the rebels to give up violence, other means would have to be taken.

In an address this morning to an open meeting of the Council, President Buyoya said that while there was reason for hope in Burundi, there were still real challenges that could compromise the road to peace.

The first was the continuing violence, President Buyoya noted. The peace process had been negotiated without a ceasefire and now that it had been signed, the rebellion and the violence continued. In light of that situation, he recommended another visit by the Council to Burundi to evaluate the situation on the ground.

The second challenge was the reconstruction of his country, the President said. After eight years of crisis, the Burundian economy had suffered and the percentage of the population living in poverty had nearly doubled since 1992. Exports were down, debt repayments were way behind and debt continued to be a major problem. Mr. Buyoya appealed to the Council to heighten international awareness of the situation in Burundi so that substantial support would be given to the peace process.

The President said that recently in Geneva, donors had pledged almost $800 million to Burundi for the next three years. Additional inputs, however, would also have to be made since repatriating refugees, resettling internally displaced persons and rebuilding infrastructure required more resources.

On the more positive side, President Buyoya said the political climate in Burundi had improved considerably, especially since the establishment of transitional institutions on 1 November 2001. Of particular note was the establishment of a transitional Government, which represented all the signatories and parties to the Arusha Agreement with the exception of one that did not wish to participate.

According to President Buyoya, Burundi was also actively following the problems in the subregion. Improving bilateral relations with its neighbours was a necessity, he said, and his country was committed to doing just that.

Immediately following President Buyoya’s briefing, the Council met in a private meeting to discuss the situation in Burundi.