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UN and international envoys urge Burundi Government to forge ‘new path’ through dialogue

Burning barricades in Bujumbura, as turmoil erupted in Burundi.
Desire Nimubona/IRIN
Burning barricades in Bujumbura, as turmoil erupted in Burundi.

UN and international envoys urge Burundi Government to forge ‘new path’ through dialogue

The Government of Burundi should immediately seize the opportunity for dialogue and forge a “new path,” United Nations and international envoys declared today, condemning the wave of recent attacks in the crisis-torn country and urging parties to show “restraint, leadership, and vision.”

“Following months of unrest and the controversial electoral process, the Burundian government can begin to restore credibility through engagement in an inclusive political dialogue with political parties, including opposition and the Frondeurs of the CNDD-FDD, and civil society,” stated the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit.

Mr. Djinnit issued that statement jointly with a team of international special envoys, which included African Union’s Special Envoy, Ibrahima Fall, United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Thomas Perriello; European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region Koen Vervaeke, and Belgian Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region Frank De Coninck.

“The Burundian government cannot afford to continue down a road marred by instability, division, extreme economic decline, and humanitarian crisis. Already one of the most fragile economies in the world, Burundi’s economy has plummeted further in recent months and shows little sign that it can recover in the absence of a resolution to the political crisis,” declared the envoys, stressing that donors’ willingness to continue partnering with the Government is dependent on progress towards restoring the country’s democratic credentials.

Calling for an immediate end to violence, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the resumption of an inclusive political dialogue, they condemned the killing of General Adolph Nshimirimana and the attack on human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, journalist Esdras Ndikumana and others, and called for those responsible to be held accountable.

“Violence will not resolve Burundi's political crisis and will only further the instability. Calls for violence will be condemned and will discredit those individuals and parties that make them”, the envoys continued, calling upon the Government of Burundi and other political parties to immediately recommit to a transparent, inclusive, and comprehensive political dialogue.

“The National Assembly’s decision last week to eliminate quotas ensuring ethnic and gender balance in its leadership committee indicate a disturbing intent by the ruling party to repeal one of the fundamental principles of peace and stability that enabled Burundi to emerge from protracted civil war,” the Envoys regretted, while encouraging parties to recommit to the Arusha Agreement and its power-sharing provisions.

The crisis in Burundi continues to spill across borders, with over 200,000 people seeking refuge across the region. The latest numbers show 85,200 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, 71,600 in Rwanda, 28,300 in Uganda, 14,322 in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC), 7,000 in Kenya, and 3,000 in southern Africa.

Commending these countries for their humanitarian contributions as hosts, the Envoys said that dialogue that brings about a political resolution to the instability in Burundi is the best route to encourage the safe return of refugees and prevent regional instability.