Burundi: creating the conditions for free, fair and inclusive elections [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 21 November 2018
I thank President Kafando, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi, and Ambassador Lauber, Chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, for their important briefings and for their commitment. On behalf of France, I would like to make three main points
.I would first like to express our concerns about various developments in Burundi in recent months. Secondly, I want to call on the Burundian authorities to take appropriate measures to enable free and peaceful elections to be held in 2020. And thirdly, in this context, I want to support the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Security Council remain seized of this matter, in the understanding that we should reflect collectively on the best way for the international community to help Burundi emerge from this crisis.
My first point is about the latest developments in Burundi. We would like to once again welcome President Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will not stand for re-election in 2020 and will support the next President to be elected. That positive gesture could contribute to finding a peaceful way out of the crisis. However, that does not diminish the fact that the recent situation presents real concerns, as the Secretary-General has described. The fact that the Burundian authorities did not participate in the fifth session of the inter-Burundian dialogue held in Arusha at the end of October is particularly regrettable. The announcement that foreign non-governmental organizations in the country were being suspended for three months has also given rise to doubts. It is part of a general context of deterioration, as the international Commission of Inquiry has highlighted, concluding that there have been serious human rights violations and that the space in which civil society can act is constrained. The Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2018/1028) also points out those serious human rights violations. In particular, we are concerned about the growing role played by certain elements of the Imbonerakure, the youth movement of the ruling party. And we deplore the threats, intimidation and personal attacks against the members of the Commission of Inquiry.
We are also worried about aspects of the humanitarian situation, such as the 3.6 million Burundians in need and the plight of displaced persons and refugees. While a number of people have returned, we reiterate how important it is that they do so voluntarily, safely and with dignity, in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law.
My second point is that we are extending a hand to the Burundian authorities in asking them to move forward. We should now all focus on the 2020 elections, which must be free, fair and transparent. Now is the time for the Burundian Government to change its trajectory and make a return to stability possible. In that regard, we encourage it to resume the inter-Burundian political dialogue. We also ask it to ensure that all political parties have fair and equitable access to the 2020 elections. The priority right now is creating the conditions for free, fair and truly inclusive elections that respect the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. In that regard it will be crucial to ensure women’s participation in the whole process. We also call for respect for fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of opinion and expression, which will help to restore the Burundian people’s trust in their institutions generally. That is essential to an open, peaceful society and long-term stability. In the same spirit, we call on the Burundian authorities to cooperate fully with the independent mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We want to see them act neutrally and impartially in investigating and prosecuting cases of human rights violations, whoever the perpetrators may be.
My third point concerns how the international community should help Burundi emerge from its crisis. France shares the Secretary-General’s view that we must work closely with the East African Community and the African Union to help Burundi hold fair, free and transparent elections in 2020. Like the Secretary-General, we believe that this issue should remain on the Security Council’s agenda. Human rights violations and the importance of the 2020 elections demand special attention on the part of the Council, because the stability of both the country and the region depends on it. We will follow very closely what the Heads of State and Government of the East African Community say at their important meeting at the end of the month, just as we will of course listen with great interest to the recommendations of the facilitator, President Mkapa. Lastly, I would like to reiterate France’s support for the facilitation led by the East African Community, as well as the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, whom I would like to thank once again.