France calls for the organization of free elections in Burundi [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 30 October 2019
At the outset, I would like to thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and the Ambassador of Switzerland for their briefings and, above all, for their work in support of peace and reconciliation in Burundi.
France would also like to see the rule of law and human rights respected in Burundi and for the country to experience development and growth and benefit from the current momentum in the Great Lakes region. The 2020 elections will be a crucial moment; only the organization of free elections will allow Burundi to find its way back to stability. The electoral deadlines must be prepared for by consensus, with the trust of all political actors and the population. President Nkurunziza’s commitment not to stand for re-election and the ongoing discussions with some political leaders in exile contribute to reduced tensions, but the violence against activists, the arbitrary arrest of journalists and members of the opposition and the acts of vandalism against the opposition party’s offices must be condemned and stopped. France urges the Burundian authorities to prosecute the perpetrators and do everything possible to ensure that such acts are not repeated.
The guarantee of freedom of expression during the campaign, the opening of political space and the security of candidates and supporters of the various parties would be welcome. Such technical measures as electoral observation by citizens and transparency in vote counting could also help to build that trust. Several partners have indicated their willingness to support Burundi in preparing the elections if it so wishes. France strongly encourages the Burundian authorities to take advantage of this opportunity.
In parallel, France remains concerned about the persistence of human rights violations in the country as well as violence, including sexual violence, and the closure of the Human Rights Office in Burundi. We encourage the Burundian authorities to fully respect their international commitments in terms of protecting human rights. These measures are also necessary for holding inclusive and peaceful elections. In that regard, France will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation with great attention.
Beyond preparing the elections, and in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement, political dialogue remains necessary for the situation to be normalized. Such a dialogue will also help to build confidence in the electoral process and prevent elections from being held in an atmosphere of tension.
France encourages the East African Community to continue its mediation efforts and further calls on the Burundian authorities to engage in dialogue with the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. In the pivotal period ahead, it is important that the United Nations remain fully engaged. This heightened focus is justified both by the pre-electoral monitoring and by the risk that any deterioration of the situation in Burundi might pose for the region. That is why the Security Council cannot ignore the situation in the country.
The commitment of the Secretary-General and his teams remains more necessary than ever before. We fully support the recommendations of the Secretary-General. Accordingly, France urges Burundi to finalize without delay the agreement on the status of the mission for the Office of the Special Envoy, as the Secretary-General has requested.
I would conclude by saying that we regret the Special Envoy’s departure and that we share his opinion that the United Nations must continue its involvement in Burundi, and by extending a personal warm thanks to President Kafando.