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Burundi consolidating peace despite challenges – UN envoy

Special Representative Karin Landgren.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Special Representative Karin Landgren.

Burundi consolidating peace despite challenges – UN envoy

Burundi is making steady progress in consolidating peace after years of conflict, the United Nations top official in the country told the Security Council today, noting that considerable socio-economic challenges remain.

“Since my last report to the Security Council in May, there has been progress that show that Burundi is largely continuing its efforts in peacebuilding as planned,” Karin Landgren, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) told the Council in a briefing.

“Burundi’s physical, economic, social and legal pressures must be addressed and managed so as to reinforce, and not undermine the consolidation of the country’s hard-won peace,” she said.

Ms. Landgren also noted that politically motivated killings could also undermine the consolidation of peace, referring to the massacre of 39 people on 18 September in a bar in the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura.

The trial of 21 people arrested in connection with the killings got under way last month, with six of the alleged masterminds charged with crimes against humanity.

“This trial will be closely monitored and will be a litmus test for the independence and impartiality of the court system in Burundi,” said Ms. Landgren, stressing, however, that the attacks was “generally an isolated incident” and that the security situation remained calm.

On the normalization of relations between the Government and extra-parliamentary political parties, Ms. Landgren said the past six months “have seemed to give an indication of the way forward.” She cited the launch by the First Deputy President of quarterly meetings with registered political parties. She urged the Government and the parties “to continue their relentless efforts for dialogue.”

The rapprochement between the Government and the extra-parliamentary opposition have, however, been clouded by arrests and the murder of members of certain extra-parliamentary parties. There have also been reports of recruitment, organization and training of militias by members of some parties and other opposition groups, Ms. Landgren said.

Overall, said Ms. Landgren, for a country still recovering from years of conflict, Burundi is to be commended for the relative political freedoms it has entrenched in its post-transition constitution. “It will ensure that there is no narrowing of political space, including through the media and harassment of civil society,” she added.

“The way out of past violence is long and difficult,” she noted, adding that Burundi must initiate a formal and inclusive process of truth, justice and reconciliation. The Government and the people of Burundi deserve the support of the UN in their efforts to consolidate peace and development, Ms. Landgren said.

Addressing the Council, Adolphe Nahayo, the Director General of Burundi’s Ministry of External Affairs and International Cooperation, urged the UN and all friendly countries to continue supporting the country’s socio-economic recovery efforts and to build on progress made so far.