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Security Council concerned at Burundi stalemate

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern over the lack of progress in the political situation in Burundi.

While the security situation in the East African country is generally calm, members of the Security Council are concerned over the slow progress of inter-Burundian dialogue and lack of engagement by the government, the UN body said in a press statement.

The members are calling on all Burundian stakeholders to participate unconditionally in the dialogue led by the East African Community and reach an agreement well ahead of the 2020 elections.

Stressing that dialogue is the only viable process for a sustainable political settlement, the council members welcomed the announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza that he will not seek another term in 2020, which is seen as a first step toward reducing political tensions.

The Burundi political crisis dates back to April 2015, when President Nkurunziza sought a controversial third term.

The council members said they hope the 2020 elections will be free, fair, peaceful and fully inclusive, with the participation of all political parties and women. The political and human rights situation has to be considerably improved and progress made on reconciliation to enable credible elections, they said.

The council members are asking other states in the region to refrain from any interference and respect their obligations under international law.

The humanitarian situation in Burundi has been deteriorating with nearly 180,000 Burundians internally displaced, nearly 400,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries, and 3.6 million people in need, they said.



Burundi’s president asks for citizens’ continued contribution to 2020 elections

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza Monday evening issued a message to the nation at his third anniversary of rule, calling for the east African country’s citizens to continue contributing to the country’s 2020 general elections.

“We’re engaged on the path of democracy. The most recent example is the organization of the constitutional referendum successfully held on May 17 this year where citizens voluntarily contributed necessary funds for the organization of the referendum. I take this opportunity to thank all Burundian citizens and those of the Diaspora to continue contributing to the 2020 elections,” said Nkurunziza.

According to him, citizens have been “showing their enthusiasm” in contributing to the 2020 elections because they have understood where their past and now know where they are heading to.

“Among decisions to be taken, there is one that concerns us all. Let us prepare and organize ourselves the 2020 elections as well as future elections without waiting for external aid,” said Nkurunziza.

He indicated that the 2015 elections during which he was victorious were held in serenity.

“Citizens who love their country jubilated, but enemies of the country wherever they are were surprised and didn’t know what to do. Burundi continued to shine. Whoever will attempt to overthrow democratic institutions will himself fall in the trap he will have laid,” warned Nkurunziza.

He added that the third anniversary of his rule after winning the 2015 elections is celebrated at a time when Burundi is enjoying peace, security and total tranquility. 

“Burundi is peaceful thanks to the good collaboration between security and defense forces, the judiciary, the local administration and citizens,” said Nkurunziza.

He advised citizens to work for the country and to protect it so that future generations can inherit a nice, peaceful, organized, respectable and prosperous country.

Nkurunziza said that his government is committed to fight all sorts of discrimination and favoritism.

At the promulgation of the country’s amended constitution on June 7 at Bugendana, in Gitega province, central Burundi, Nkurunziza announced that he will leave the presidency in 2020 at the expiry of his current presidential term.

Nkurunziza was elected president by the two chambers of the parliament in 2005 and directly re-elected by citizens in 2010.

He was again directly re-elected by citizens in 2015 in what the opposition called a third term in violation of the 2005 national constitution.

But the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), argue that the 2005-2010 term should not be considered as a “genuine term” as the 2005 national constitution stipulates that “the President of the Republic is elected in a direct universal suffrage for a five-year term renewable once”.


UN Burundi envoy urges all sides to participate in dialogu

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- A United Nations envoy for Burundi on Thursday asked the Security Council to appeal to all sides in the country to participate in inter-Burundi dialogue that would build on recent developments.

The quarterly briefing to the Security Council by Michel Kafando, special envoy of the secretary-general for Burundi, was the first since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced on June 7, when he promulgated a new constitution, that he would not seek an additional term in office when elections take place in 2020.

The special envoy drew attention to a Aug. 3 workshop of Burundian political actors that produced a road map leading to the 2020 elections, as well as to his meetings with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and with the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa—the mediator and the facilitator, respectively, of the inter-Burundi dialogue process led by the East African Community.

Emphasizing the importance of the new constitution and the president’s statements, he said both developments “created an opportunity to make progress towards a final settlement of a political crisis” that dated to 2015 when protests erupted following Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a further term in office.

Summarizing recent developments, Kafando said the security situation in Burundi remains calm, and that 35,000 refugees have returned to Burundi from Tanzania since September 2017.

A series of high-level visits meanwhile demonstrated the government’s willingness to improve relations with the international community, he said, adding that he hopes Burundi and the European Union will soon resume talks leading to the lifting of European sanctions.

In the ensuing debate, many council members welcomed the president’s declaration that he would not seek re-election, praised the role being played most notably by the East African Community and looked forward to free and fair elections in 2020.

At the same time, however, several delegates voiced concern over the human rights situation and called for the government to resume cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Local official escapes death in western Burundi

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- The administrator of Gihanga district in Bubanza province, western Burundi, Thursday night escaped death after an unidentified person blasted a grenade inside the compound of his house, the attacked administrator told Xinhua by phone on Friday.

“It was last night around 20:30 p.m. local time when we heard an explosion of a grenade in my compound in Gihanga town. The criminal launched it via the fence of my house and it exploded inside the compound, but no damages took place,” said Leopold Ndayisaba, administrator of Gihanga district.

According to him, security agents pursued the attacker, but could not find his whereabouts. 

“That grenade attack shows that there are people still illegally keeping firearms in their houses. We are soon to hold a meeting to convince residents to hand over them to security for their own safety and security,” said Ndayisaba.

The zone of Gihanga is located close to Rukoko forest reserve which makes border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Security has been occasionally disrupted in villages near Burundi’s Rukoko forest reserve in Gihanga, with thefts and ambushes on the road linking Bujumbura to Cibitoke and the road linking Bujumbura to Gatumba.

Attacks are often mounted by gunmen who then retreat to the DRC territory via Rukoko forest reserve.



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