26 March 2014 –The United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB), in coordination with the Government, plans to convene a meeting with political actors by May, aimed at resuming political dialogue and to help ease political tensions, as Burundi heads towards general elections in 2015.
The announcement was made on Wednesday in Bujumbura by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Parfait Onanga-Anyanga. “We look forward to the possibility of holding another meeting by May. We have already discussed it with the Government. It is paramount to meet. Elections are set for next year but they have already sparked off huge debates,” Onanga-Anyanga said.
“We must act quickly to drop the current tension,” he added as he reminded that violence should be banned from democracy.
On 10 March, BNUB issued a statement focusing on the “political tension” over the last few months and a radicalization of positions that could lead to an outright confrontation in Burundi.
On 13 March, the UN Secretary-General deplored recent developments, in particular the violent confrontations between the police and members of opposition parties on 8 March, and called upon the government and political parties to exercise restraint and refrain from any actions that could exacerbate tensions. The Secretary-General also deplored the growing restrictions on the freedom of expression, association and assembly, especially the prohibition and disruption of opposition meetings by the police and the youth wing of the ruling party.
On 7 March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also voiced concern at the increasing restrictions on civil and political rights in Burundi, following a series of violent acts by the ruling party’s youth wing and the disruption of public meetings organized by opposition parties.
SRSG Onanga-Anyanga and Deputy SRSG and UN Resident Coordinator Rosine Sori Coulibaly met the press on Wednesday to talk about BNUB’s transition and the transfer of the Office responsibilities to the UN Country Team, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2137 (2014) as well as the UN future engagement in Burundi.
Both stated that although BNUB is closing down, the United Nations will remain engaged in the country.
DSRSG Sori-Coulibaly highlighted that the UNCT will, among others, mobilize international support to fund the UN Development Agreement Framework 2012-2016, which implementation is valued at $616m. Half of the amount has already been mobilized, according to Mrs Sori-Coulibaly, who also recalled Peacebuilding Funds (PBF) $11.6 m recent contribution to Burundi.
In the forthcoming months, the country team assistance to Burundi will focus on the MDG’s and post-2015 agenda; local development, capacity building of national institutions; and combat against gender based violence, among others.