Progress has been made in Burundi's peace process, but it is not yet irreversible and the peacebuilding United Nations Office in Burundi (ONUB) should maintain its strength of more than 5,000 personnel as its mandate is extended for another six months until December, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends.
In his latest quarterly report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan says, "ONUB has, since its deployment, contributed in a significant way to the progress achieved in the peace process. I believe its presence will continue to play a vital role, in particular during the forthcoming electoral period."
He adds that the unpaid assessed peacekeeping contributions total $88.7 million for post-civil war Burundi out of the total outstanding contributions for all UN peacekeeping operations of $2.22 billion.
Burundi's society should build on the peace process and move towards national reconciliation, stability and development, reinforcing the message that "sectarian interests can no longer define modern Burundian society," Mr. Annan says.
Having postponed the end of the transitional period until 26 August, "it will be incumbent on the Burundian parties to demonstrate the political will necessary for the successful conclusion of the transitional process and to ensure the strictest adherence to the new electoral calendar," he says.
The Transitional Government, meanwhile, should help the succeeding elected Government by taking steps to enter the World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative to help reduce the country's "devastating" debt and allow it to enter the development and reconstruction phase, he says.
Human rights violations were a serious concern, he says. "Human rights abuses are frequently perpetrated in the absence of appropriate legal mechanisms and in a general atmosphere of impunity. At the core of many of these crimes remains the dangerous undercurrent of ethnic and regional division, which will need to be decisively and persistently addressed in the post-transition period."