Special Reports

Burundi: Great Lakes Envoys Warn Nkurunziza against Violence

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buy http://clubcycloautun.fr/wp-includes/class-wp-post-type.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>Nkurunziza’s government recently came under international pressure after it emerged that weapons were being distributed to a militant youth wing of the Hutu-led regime in areas dominated by Tutsi.

and geneva;”>Chimpreports understands that several regional and western leaders telephoned Nkurunziza, this warning him against repeating the acts of the Hutu government in Rwanda in 1994 such as arming the Interahamwe to engage in large scale ethnic killings.

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Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson, U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Russ Feingold, Special Representative of the African Union for Burundi and the Great Lakes Region Boubacar Diarra, and European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region Koen Vervaeke, took part this past weekend in the Children’s Forum of Hope held in Bujumbura, a venue set up to empower the youth of the Great Lakes region and to ensure the inclusion of their voices in the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework process.


The Envoys commend the activism of the 52 youth from 7 signatory countries who participated in the forum and encourage them to be voices for peace in their respective countries.


In a statement seen by this website on Tuesday, the Envoys said they were “very concerned about the constraints on political space and civil liberties which hinder the efforts of the opposition, civil society, and the media, in the lead up to elections in 2015.”


It further read: “Burundi has made commendable progress in overcoming a history of conflict, but that progress risks being lost if action is taken to undermine the electoral process and prevent the full participation of all stakeholders.


An election is more than a day; it is a process. Only if the electoral process is inclusive, transparent, and peaceful, can the election itself be considered free, fair and credible.”


The Envoys who promised to keep a close eye on the upcoming polls, said “in the run-up to the elections, media and civil society must be free to speak up and report upon the entire electoral process.”


They emphasised that “all political parties and actors must have an equal opportunity to participate in the process, including meeting at any time and as often as necessary to prepare for peaceful elections.”


The warning comes against the background of reports that the Hutu-dominated Burundi government is secretly arming an extremist militia with weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles and pistols in stronghold areas of the opposition UPRONA party.

Chimpreports recently broke news of a UN cable leaked to the U. S Envoy to United Nations, Samantha Power, reading, “there was distribution of weapons and military outfits to the youth affiliated to the ruling CNDD-FDD (Imbonerakure) party and the demobilised ex-AIMP Rumonge.”

A UN official in Bujumbura said in the “confidential” memo to his bosses in New York on April 3, 2014 that “a meeting was held in a hotel known as Kukanyamuneza belonging to a ‘Brigadier General’ in Nduwumunsi in Rumonge” to draw a plan on doling out the weapons.

He further observed that a night training for the handling of these weapons was held near the Central Prison of Rumonge (Kumurembwe) and that the surrounding population heard the gunfire.

“One can only speculate about the purpose of the distribution of weapons and uniforms in Bururi which is a traditional stronghold of the UPRONA.”

Burundi remains a fragile country after enduring three decades of a bloody conflict.


Intimidation


The envoys who met President Nkurunziza and shared their common analysis on the situation in Burundi, said “any effort to prevent meetings, intimidate participants, or undermine the opposition jeopardizes the process and runs counter to the Burundian government’s expressed commitment to democracy.”


The Envoys urge all parties including opposition and civil society to renounce violence and to call upon their members to exercise restraint and peaceful expression.


“This election has the potential to build on Burundi’s recent progress and contribute to a stronger future. The Envoys encourage the Government of Burundi and all stakeholders to seize this opportunity to bring about a better future for their country through a transparent, inclusive, peaceful, and credible electoral process.”


The Envoys welcomed the adoption by consensus of the new Electoral Law and the agreement in principle by the Burundian political parties and actors to adopt a code of conduct for the elections.


They also took note of the Government of Burundi’s commitment to organize transparent, inclusive, and peaceful elections, and to invite international observers.

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