Security Council hails 'milestone' political handover in Burundi

Security Council hails 'milestone' political handover in Burundi

Ambassador Munir Akram
Hailing the peaceful transfer of the Presidency in Burundi from the Tutsi minority to Hutu majority as a "major milestone" towards full implementation of the 2000 Arusha Agreement, the United Nations Security Council today urged all the parties to keep working together to successfully resolve other "pressing" transitional issues.

In a statement read out during a formal meeting by its current President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, the Security Council congratulated the Burundian parties on Wednesday's peaceful political handover. It stressed, however, that it is now crucial to follow up that positive development by pressing ahead with the next phase of the transition, relating to such outstanding issues as meaningful security sector and judicial reforms.

"Resolving such pressing and other related issues is the only way to ensure that the 36-month transitional period is a success," Ambassador Akram said, adding that the Council members urged all regional parties and actors to continue their efforts to bring about a lasting peace in Burundi.

The Security Council also urged the parties to take serious, meaningful steps to address human rights and accountability issues, and in that regard, welcomed the Senate's recent approval of legislation on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and legislation establishing a truth and reconciliation Commission. The Council also stressed the importance for the Burundian parties themselves to take ownership of the process to address the devastating impact of impunity.

The statement stressed that the Council stood ready to "take steps against those that are found to continue to support armed attacks by the Burundi Rebels," and condemned last month's attacks on the capital, Bujumbura, and other cities by the forces of National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).

"The Security Council urges all Burundian parties to observe the terms of the ceasefire agreements and implement them without delay," Ambassador Akram said, adding that the 15-nation body also reiterated its demands that Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People-National Liberation Forces (FNL) lay down its arms and immediately enter into a ceasefire with the Government of Burundi without preconditions.

The statement expressed the Council's support for the speedy deployment of the African Mission in Burundi, and appealed for sustained international assistance toward that endeavour. It also urged donors to support the country's economy and to contribute generously to transitional debt relief.