Global Policy Forum

High Hopes for Ceasefire

May 24, 2005

The UN is hopeful that a ceasefire in Burundi will hold and help to facilitate upcoming elections.

The United Nations Security Council said it is convinced a cease-fire agreement between Burundi's transitional government and the last Hutu rebel hold-out group will facilitate upcoming elections. The council on Monday noted the commitment by both parties to immediately stop fighting, agree within a month on a permanent ceasefire, "and negotiate without disturbing the electoral process."

The May 15 agreement, which the council welcomed "with satisfaction," improves prospects for ending Burundi's 11 1/2-year conflict that began in October 1993 when paratroopers from the Tutsi ethnic minority assassinated the country's first democratically elected president, from the Hutu majority. The assassination triggered a civil war in which more than 250 000 people were killed, most of them civilians. Following a series of peace deals, Hutu rebels either joined a transitional government or agreed to observe a ceasefire. They also agreed to share power in a new administration that will be formed later this year, after local government, legislative and presidential elections. Campaigning began last week for the first local government elections since Burundi's independence from Belgium in 1962, to be held on June 3.

The Security Council said the May 15 agreement was a first step that should allow rebels from the National Liberation Force, known as the FNL, to be rapidly integrated into the transitional process currently under way in Burundi. "The council remains convinced that FNL's participation in this process will facilitate the holding of the forthcoming elections," the council said in a statement read by its current president, Denmark's UN Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj.

In a report to the council written before the May 15 agreement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that while there have been important advances in the peace process, "the process of reform has not yet become irreversible."The The Burundian parties must demonstrate the political will to complete the transitional process and strictly adhere to the electoral calendar, he said. "All political parties must exercise restraint in their electoral campaigns," Annan said. "It is essential that elections are carried out in a peaceful environment that encourages voter participation, and can provide a model for subsequent elections in the country." The secretary-general urged all Burundian leaders "to reinforce the message that sectarian interests can no longer define modern Burundian society." He also called for an end to the frequent human rights abuses and the "general atmosphere of impunity" in the country. The Security Council also urged all Burundian parties to end "the climate of impunity" and to exert greater efforts to ensure a successful transition, national reconciliation and long-term stability.



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.