Welcome to the United Nations

Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Burundi, Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco

Thank you, Mr. President,
Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Security Council,

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to inform the Security Council on the developments that have taken place in Burundi since February this year, when Special Envoy Michel Kafando latest briefed in this chamber. I will also be sharing some details on his last visit to the East African sub-region, as and to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

I take this opportunity to recognize the important presence at this meeting of the Commissioner for Peace and Security H.E. Smaïl Chergui, the Permanent Representative of Burundi, H.E. Albert Shingiro and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Configuration for Burundi H.E. Jürg Lauber.

Mr. President,

The following are some notable developments in Burundi since February of this year.

The Government’s attention is focused on the conduct of 2020 general elections and continues to mobilize its citizens to contribute towards their preparation;

The Independent National Elections Commission (CENI) continues its efforts to sensitize the population on democratic values, in pursuit of peaceful and credible elections. The CENI’s meeting initially called on 14 June to announce the calendar of the general elections has been postponed;

On 20 March, the Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) of Agathon Rwasa after much ado, was authorized to conduct its first ordinary congress which enabled the political party to designate its national representatives;

On 17 April, the Electoral Code was adopted by a large majority of the National Assembly and unanimously endorsed by the Senate on 24 April. Some opposition members denounced the process surrounding the adoption of the Electoral Code. In their view, the process lacked the widespread consultation and consensus that is required for the legal framework for the organization and conduct of the elections in 2020.

Against the backdrop of these developments, the human rights situation remains worrying in view of many violations of fundamental civic and political freedoms as reported by political actors, some media and civil society organizations. Increases in unemployment and the rise in prices of basic commodities and services have negatively affected the economic and socio-cultural rights.

The humanitarian situation has remained largely unchanged since the last briefing of Special Envoy Kafando. Despite a relatively satisfactory agricultural production this year, nearly 1.8 million people remain at risk of food insecurity, due to recurrent and devastating climatic hazards.

As at 30 April 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated the number of refugees hosted in the sub-region to be around 352,000. We encourage the Government of Burundi to work closely with its partners to ensure that assistance reaches those most in need in a timely fashion. We also encourage international partners to increase their contributions as the Humanitarian Response Plan, requiring US $ 106.4 million, is currently only 24 percent funded, while the Regional Refugee Response Plan, requiring US $ 296 million, is only 17 percent funded.

Mr. President, 
Distinguished members of the Security Council,

You will recall that the 20th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the East African community held on 1 February in Arusha renewed the mandate of the Mediator, the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Museveni. The Summit also received the final report of the Facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania. The report is a synthesis of the five sessions of the inter-Burundian dialogue as well as the Facilitator’s Road Map to support Burundi ahead of the 2020 general elections. The Summit did agree to continue to consult on the way forward.

It is in this context that from 10 to 22 May, Special Envoy Kafando traveled to the African Union Headquarters and to the countries of the East African subregion to consult with regional leaders.

In Addis Ababa, Special Envoy Kafando held consultations with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, and H.E. Smaïl Chergui; the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security. In Dares-Salaam, Special Envoy Kafando held separate engagements with the former Facilitator of the inter-Burundian dialogue, former President Benjamin Mkapa, before meeting with H.E. Professor Palamagamba Kadugi the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania. On 16 May, Special Envoy Kafando was received by H.E. John Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Special Envoy then traveled to Bujumbura but did not meet with the Burundian authorities due to their busy schedules. Nonetheless, he used the opportunity to meet with some ambassadors accredited to Burundi as well as the United Nations country team. In Kigali, the Special Envoy met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Richard Sezibera, on 21 May.

Mr. President,

During Special Envoy Kafando’s interactions at the AU and in the sub-region, with a view to stimulating discussions, including on continued UN partnership with the EAC and the African Union in our collective efforts to support Burundi, he suggested three possible courses of action for the consideration of stakeholders. These were: (i) the possibility of convening a meeting of the guarantors of the Arusha Agreement with a view to reaffirm its centrality to Burundi’s political stability; (ii) support to the African Union and the subregion in the context of the elections in the subregion; and (iii) the continuation of the Joint Technical Working Group (which comprises the EAC-AU-UN) in support of region-led
efforts on Burundi.

Throughout the consultations, the Special Envoy’s interlocutors underscored the need to respect the sovereignty of Burundi. They also stressed the importance of continued cooperation between the United Nations, the East African Community and the African Union in support of the country, especially in the context of the upcoming 2020 elections. They thanked the Special Envoy for an opportunity to reflect on his suggestions to them.

In this regard, Special Envoy Kafando will return to the region to engage with the Mediator on how best the African Union and the United Nations can support regional efforts.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the interlocutors of the Special Envoy for engaging constructively. The Secretariat encourages leaders of the region to continue consultations with the Special Envoy especially during his upcoming trip to the region. When the consultations of the Special Envoy are duly concluded, the outcomes will be the basis upon which the Secretary-General could define and recommend to the Security Council the way forward, including options in support of the EAC-led and AU-endorsed inter-Burundian dialogue ahead of 2020 elections, as indicated in his latest report to the Council.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Members of the Security Council,
I thank you for your kind attention.