SRSG Onanga commends Burundians for achievements in peace consolidation, confirms continued United Nations support to tackle the challenges still ahead
Bujumbura, 3 October 2012 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Burundi, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, speaking at his first press conference since taking up his new appointment, emphasized Burundi's significant achievements with regard to peace consolidation and recovery while noting that there were still major challenges ahead.
SRSG Onanga stressed the United Nations' continued strong support to Burundi, referring specifically to areas such as reinforcing good governance, promoting and protecting human rights, strengthening the independence of the judiciary, as well as supporting socio-economic development and the fight against poverty. "The United Nations are here to support all Burundian stakeholders in their quest for peace and development", said the SRSG. "BNUB and the entire UN family in Burundi are committed to working closely with the Government, partners and all social and political actors to help build a stronger Burundian nation."
Responding to questions from journalists regarding intimidation and violence allegedly perpetrated by youth groups, SRSG Onanga welcomed the Burundian authorities' condemnation of such acts. "We all have a responsibility to ensure that the path towards the 2015 elections is peaceful, and that they are held in a climate free of fear and insecurity", he stated. SRSG Onanga recalled the importance of the Arusha peace accord (signed in 2000) and its strong message of dialogue, noting that "the United Nations condemns the resort to force. We are here to support transparent democratic processes according to our mandate and we encourage all political actors to embrace this pact."
Several journalists asked about the issue of extra-judicial executions and the United Nations' reaction to the recent report of the Prosecutor-General. SRSG Onanga emphasized that this serious topic was the subject of regular discussions between the United Nations and the Government. He welcomed the "first steps and legal action already taken by authorities" following the issuance of the report, noting that these were encouraging signs for the commitment to end impunity. SRSG Onanga explained that "in line with our Security Council mandate we will continue to monitor the human rights situation and pursue our dialogue with the Government on these serious questions, to ensure that they receive the attention and the responses they deserve".
SRSG Onanga emphasized that the United Nations would also continue to support national efforts at establishing transitional justice mechanisms in Burundi. He noted that this process needed to be nationally-owned, and that the initiative of national stakeholders was therefore indispensable to moving forward; the United Nations was ready to provide the necessary support, together with other partners, to ensure that any proposed mechanisms would be in line with national expectations as well as relevant international standards and best practice.
SRSG Onanga emphasized the need to continue supporting Burundi's peace consolidation process and to build on the gains made so far. Significant advances in socio-economic development, he said, were crucial at this moment to promote peace and stability in Burundi. In that context, he said, the United Nations were working closely with the authorities, local stakeholders, and Burundi's international partners to ensure that the upcoming Geneva partners' conference, slated for 29-30 October 2012, would be a success. SRSG Onanga encouraged Burundi's partners to contribute to the conference and to help mobilize support for the implementation of national development priorities, for the benefit of the people of Burundi.