Burundi: Security Council backs transitional government, calls for ceasefire
In a statement read out at an open meeting by the Council President, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, the 15-member body endorsed the legitimacy of the transitional government headed by President Pierre Buyoya, which was established according to an agreement signed by parties to the conflict in Arusha, Tanzania on 28 August 2000. The Council paid tribute to signatories of that agreement, and particular tribute was paid to President Buyoya.
The Council called on rebel groups still fighting to lay down their arms immediately and emphasized that, while the transition was moving ahead according to the established timeframe, “time is of the essence for the rebels finally to join the peace process.”
The Council also welcomed efforts to normalize relations between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It encouraged swift implementation of efforts to ensure the territory of the DRC was not used for attacks on Burundi, and for the withdrawal of Burundian troops from Congolese land – measures agreed to in a joint statement the two States issued on 7 January.
In a briefing on refugee matters earlier today, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, told the Security Council that if a ceasefire could be effected across Burundi, hundreds of thousands of Burundians currently in Tanzania and elsewhere would seek to return home. Some 600,000 Burundians are currently living as refugees in East, Central and Southern Africa while another 600,000 remained voluntarily displaced inside the country.