With organizational and financial preparations for Burundi’s 2020 elections well underway, Ezechiel Nibigira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the UN General Assembly on Monday the Government is wary of, and will not tolerate, any outside interference in the polls.
Mr. Nibigira declared that there is an increasingly favourable climate for free, transparent and calm election, and warned that any attempt by other countries to interfere with the elections would be an attack on Burundi’s sovereignty.
Several “positive gestures” from the authorities towards ensuring peaceful elections, were outlined by Mr. Nibigira, including the promotion of freedom of expression and allowing new political parties to exist; the decision of Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, not to stand in presidential elections scheduled for 2020; the reintegration of refugees and political exiles; and the release of more than 2,000 prisoners since the beginning of the year.
However, “foreign actors”, declared the Foreign Minister, are attempting to destabilize Burundi ahead of the elections; support those who attempted a coup against President Nkurunziza in 2015; and distract the people of Burundi from the core matter of the elections, and the implementation of a national development plan.
Burundians, he continued, are opposed to all foreign interference in national affairs.
Turning to security, Mr. Nibigira described the situation as “stable, calm and under control throughout the whole territory,” with Burundians in all parts of the country enjoying their full civic and political rights.
Burundi, he said, welcomes the large-scale, voluntary return of refugees who fled the country in 2015 which, he said, demonstrates a return to peace, calm, confidence, and the stability of the country.
The Foreign Minister reiterated his Government’s call for Burundi to be removed from the UN Security Council’s agenda, and called for reform of the body which, he said, by denying the African continent of a permanent seat, is depriving 1.2 billion Africans of the same rights enjoyed by citizens of the current permanent members.
Concerning the UN 2030 Agenda. Mr. Nibigira said Burundi is integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its national development plans, as well as local and regional plans, and will produce regular reports on the implementation of the SDGs.
The Minister called for more ambition, action and resources to make the Agenda a reality, adding that the climate crisis is compromising decades of progress.
On the subject of peace operations, Mr. Nibigira said that, while they are not perfect, such operations remain very useful for the maintenance and consolidation of world peace. For that reason, Burundi called for adequate, sustainable and flexible budgets to allow UN and African Union peace missions to successfully conduct their operations.
“Burundi, which contributes some 6,000 men to peace missions, reiterates its commitment to continue its substantial contribution to peacekeeping operations throughout the world”, thus returning the favour to countries that supported Burundi during the most difficult periods of its history.
“My country, Burundi, has never stopped believing in international solidarity, multilateralism and a rejection of “might is right” diplomacy”, concluded Mr. Nibigira.