Burundi: necessity for an inclusive dialogue [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 9 August 2018
I thank President Michel Kafando, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi, for his briefing. I thank him especially for his work on this important dossier while the situation remains volatile in a country that has been deeply and negatively affected by the electoral tensions of 2015, which created an environment of distrust among political actors that unfortunately continues to this day.
The persistent political stalemate and the human rights situation in Burundi remain a source of deep concern for France. Faced with the lack of real, inclusive dialogue and the closing of political space, the most radical opposition factions are tempted by armed struggle. The heavy presence and role of members of the Imbonerakure militia in carrying out measures of intimidation and suppressing opposing views are increasing. As Ambassador Delattre underscored in May (see S/PV.8268), the risk of the situation deteriorating cannot be ruled out, as was shown by the killing of three soldiers — victims of an ambush — near Bujumbura this past weekend. As we know, the status quo is unsustainable. The situation is a source of instability for the entire region. Reports of clashes on Congolese territory fuelled by Burundian armed groups are illustrative of the latter.
On behalf of France, I would like to take advantage of the presence of the Permanent Representative of Burundi today to appeal to the Burundian authorities in the same spirit as President Kafando just now. It is essential to complete the pacification of the country and ensure the security of all against every form violence, regardless of its source. It is urgent to combat impunity, including within the ranks of the security forces. It is necessary to engage unconditionally in an inclusive dialogue with all sectors of Burundian society, especially with those who do not share the same political convictions. Lastly, it is crucial, in the national interest, to restore respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of opinion and of the media. The Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, which is the cornerstone of peace, as Mr. Kafando just pointed out, provides the appropriate framework for that reconciliation. It must be preserved at all costs.
President Nkurunziza’s announcement that he will not run in the 2020 elections is a positive development that France welcomes. We hope that it will facilitate the search for a lasting political solution to the crisis experienced by Burundi. In that context, I hope that an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue can be undertaken, in the spirit of unification and peaceful coexistence established by the Arusha Agreement, with the support of the mediation of the countries of the East African Community so as to create the conditions necessary for free, fair and transparent elections in 2020. In order to succeed, such dialogue will require the efforts of all parties and their unflagging determination to close the gap separating divergent views. The facilitator, Mr. Mkapa, is working courageously to that end with France’s full support. Through dialogue, all Burundians will be able to unite and forge their common future in full independence and respect for human rights and the dignity of all.
I should like to tell the Permanent Representative of Burundi that France, the European Union, his country’s other partners and neighbours in East Africa, and the entire international community stand together with him and his country to help them. France calls on the Burundian authorities to grasp this extended hand and renew peaceful relations with their international partners, as the Council has encouraged them to do in its most recent presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/7) on the subject.
The signing of the headquarters agreement with the Office of the Special Envoy and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) would send a strong message, as would the resumption of collaboration with the OHCHR team of experts, pursuant to the Human Rights Council resolution of which Burundi itself voted in favour.