Global Policy Forum

Burundi: Bujumbura Seeks UN Help in Reconstruction Efforts

Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 23, 2006

Peace and governance; the boosting of the security and judicial sectors, human rights and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration are some of the areas for which the Burundi government is seeking United Nations support upon the total withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the country, government spokesman Ramadhan Karenga said.

The UN Mission in Burundi, known by its French acronym ONUB, is scheduled to complete its mandate in the country by 31 December 2006. It deployed in June 2004 to help to implement efforts undertaken by Burundians to restore lasting peace in the country that is emerging from 12 years of civil war.

Karenga said the government submitted its list of priorities on Monday to the visiting Under Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Gilbert Fossoun Hungbo, who is also the director of the agency's African regional office. Hungbo ends his visit on Wednesday. He is scheduled to hold talks with senior government officials, including President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Karenga said: "The government wishes for support in peace and governance, the boosting of the security sector, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, human rights and people's rights, the boosting of the judiciary sector on the eve of the setting up of the truth and reconciliation commission and the special court, as well as support to information and communication, given the role of the press in the electoral process."

He said the government and the UN would, before 31 December, agree on major areas of cooperation on which to focus. Burundi would adopt experiences of other countries such as Sierra Leone in the setting up of a UN integrated office, Karenga said. This UN integrated mission, which would replace the UN Operation mission in Burundi, would meet the requirements of post-conflict reconstruction, he added.

"It will back efforts of mobilisation of resources for the implementation of agreed upon development and reconstruction projects," Karenga said.

He said there should be continuity through "residual UN activities" as well as continued support to "selected sectors". He said funding for reconstruction projects needed to be "stable" and the projects must be of good quality and be well managed. The UN and the government will hold further consultations on post-conflict cooperation, he said.

On his part, Hungbo reiterated the UN's support to Burundi in its peace and development efforts. He delivered a message from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Burundian government. "The Secretary-General mandated me to inform you about the UN commitment to continue being on the side of Burundi in support to the process to consolidate peace, notably in the fight against poverty," Hungbo said, in an ONUB communiqué issued on Monday.

Hungbo said it was necessary "to go beyond the phase of peacekeeping in order to start a social and economic development phase".

In response to the UN secretary-general's message, Nkurunziza said international support to Burundi was crucial to achieving further progress. He said good governance was a priority for his administration and would only be achieved through fighting corruption.

"There should be change of mentality, and every time one wants to change mentalities, there is some resistance," Nkurunziza said.


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