President Mbeki Arrives in Burundi for Inauguration

President Thabo Mbeki, accompanied by Mrs Zanele Mbeki and senior government officials, has arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi this morning, Friday 26th August 2005, to attend the inauguration of President-elect Pierre Nkurunziza scheduled to take place later today.

The inauguration of President-elect Nkurunziza is a culmination of a long protracted and successful peace process, in which South Africa played a key role, with the support of the Great Lakes Regional Initiative on Burundi chaired by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, the African Union as well as the international community, especially the United Nations and the European Union.

South Africa views the ushering in of democracy in Burundi as a victory for the Burundian people and for the continent as a whole, and as a major boost for the drive towards an African Renaissance.


* Former President Nelson Mandela was appointed by regional leaders as Facilitator in October 1999, following the death of President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. As Facilitator, Mr Mandela played a decisive role in the conclusion of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, which was signed on 28 August 2005 by representatives of the main political parties and the Burundian government.

* The agreement laid the foundation for the transition to democracy, peace and development in Burundi. It stipulated a transitional government be established over a period of 36 months.

* On 1 November 2001, the transitional government was established under the leadership of President Pierre Buyoya for an initial period of 18 months, and was followed by a final 18 month period under the leadership of President Domitien Ndayizeye.

* On the retirement of Former President Mandela, Former Deputy President Jacob Zuma was appointed as Facilitator, and his efforts resulted in the conclusion of three ceasefire agreements and the adoption of a draft Constitution by the Transitional Government and political parties, which had to be ratified by a referendum which took place in February 2005. Former Deputy President Zuma is among the dignitaries attending the inauguration ceremony, and he arrived in Bujumbura yesterday, 25th of August 2005.

* In October 2003, President Mbeki and Former Deputy President Zuma hosted the Transitional Government of Burundi and other major political parties in Pretoria, and the meeting was concluded with the signing of the Pretoria Protocol on Political, Defence and Security Power-Sharing in Burundi.

* The 22nd Regional Summit on the Burundi peace process held on 18 August 2004 called upon the Transitional Government of Burundi to ensure the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission by the 29th of August 2004 and preparations began for the elections.

* Burundi held its first democratic elections since 1993 on 4 July 2005. The 21 member South African observer mission, under the leadership of Ms Winkie Direko, Member of Parliament, concluded in their election report that the elections were executed in a transparent manner.

* On 19 August 2005, a Joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate elected Mr Nkurunziza as President-elect.

President Mbeki has extended his congratulations to President-elect Nkurunziza and the Burundian people, as well as the good wishes of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa.

South Africa shares the joy of the Burundian people on this magnificent achievement, and remains committed to continue to support Burundi in the consolidation of peace and democracy, as well as in the reconstruction and development of the country.

Enquiries: Lakela Kaunda on 09257 933411 or +2782 7822575.

Issued by the Presidency

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa