Address to the United Nations Security Council, New York, 4 December 2002

Mr President,

Thank you for affording me the opportunity of addressing the United Nations Security Council today. It is indeed an honour and privilege.

I felt it important and prudent to brief the Security Council in pursuance of the common objective of securing peace and stability in the African continent in general, and in Burundi in particular.

The efforts of finding peace in Burundi take place within the context of our overall objective of creating a climate of peace, order, stability and sustainable development in the African continent. We are fully aware that the United Nations shares this vision and mission.

Today's meeting is a follow-up to the visit of the United Nations Security Council delegation to South Africa in April this year. I had indicated to the delegation that I would come to New York to brief the Security Council on progress made with regards to the ceasefire negotiations.

This intention was endorsed by the 19th Great Lakes Regional Summit on Burundi held on the 1st to 2nd December. The Heads of State believed it was important that we should keep the Security Council informed and actively involved in the process of cementing peace in the region.

Mr President, it has been more than two years since I was asked by Former South African President Nelson Mandela, the chief mediator in the Burundi conflict, to facilitate ceasefire negotiations between the belligerent parties in Burundi.

There were two armed groups fighting the Burundi government at the time, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the Palipehutu Forces for National Liberation (Palipehutu-FNL). Due to infighting, they later split, resulting in four armed movements with the same names but different leaders.

Last year, the Facilitation responsibility was expanded when Former President Mandela asked President Omar Bongo of Gabon to assist, in order to widen the expertise and capacity. Later on, we requested Tanzania to also help, particularly relating to interaction with the CNDD-FDD of Nkurunziza.

When we last met with the Security Council delegation in South Africa early this year, there was every reason to have mixed feelings about the Burundi peace process. The armed movements and the Transitional Government were far from finding common ground.

Interaction with the armed movements was characterised by the issuing of preconditions and demands, many of which had already been addressed in the Arusha agreement of 2000, and were also being implemented by the transitional government of Burundi.

There was also a sense of not accepting the Arusha agreement, and of seeking to negotiate a new type of agreement outside of Arusha, and an impression by the armed groups that the international community supported their reluctance to negotiate and conclude a ceasefire.

The unequivocal message given to the armed groups by the Security Council delegation, directing them to enter into negotiations immediately and without conditions, eliminated the wrong impression of sympathy held by the armed movements, and the leadership provided by the Security Council in this regard was invaluable.

Given the difficulties we have faced in the past, it is therefore pleasing and encouraging, Mr President, that we are today meeting with the Security Council in a climate of optimism and hope. Only two days ago, President Pierre Buyoya signed the ceasefire agreement with Pierre Nkurunziza of the CNDD-FDD in Arusha, Tanzania.

On the 7th of October 2002, , the CNDD-FDD of Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and the Palipehutu-FNL of Alain Mugabarabona signed a ceasefire agreement with the transitional government. Indeed, these are positive developments as the delay in securing a ceasefire had led continued suffering of the ordinary and innocent people of Burundi.

Mr President, when the Arusha Agreement was signed on the 28th of August 2000, all the signatories and stakeholders understood that it remained incomplete until the cease-fire agreement was concluded. Consequently, this meant that the resources that were pledged for the implementation of the Arusha Agreement by the international community were kept in abeyance until this requirement was fulfilled.

You will recall that at the request of our Former President Mandela, during the year 2000 in Paris, international donors pledged four hundred and forty million US dollars ($440million) in aid to war-weary Burundi, subject to the conclusion of a cease-fire agreement.

The serious and challenging work of implementing the agreements has now begun. The 7th October signatories, President Buyoya as well as Alain Mugabarabona of Palipehutu-FNL and Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye of the CNDD-FDD have held three meetings already, in Pretoria and Dar es Salaam, to unpack the detail on various implementation issues.

These include the return of former fighters and leaders to Burundi, the participation of the former armed movements in the transitional institutions of the State and Parliament as well as issues relating to the disarmament, demobilisation and the building of a new inclusive security apparatus in the country.

With regards to the new signatories, the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza the agreement will come into force on the 30th December 2002. The first 14 days from the date of signature will be designated to allow the belligerents to communicate with their rank and file the decision to stop fighting.

In terms of the agreement, the truce or cessation of fighting should enter into force within seventy-two hours of signing. By the 30th of December, the combatants should have commenced their movement towards the assembly areas. The thirty days also allows the parties time to discuss the establishment of implementation structures such as the Joint Monitoring Commission and Joint Liaison Teams.

The agreement also provides for the establishment of an African Mission that will be responsible for the verification and control of the ceasefire. The mission shall set up the organs and machinery required for the control and verification of the ceasefire.

The 19th Summit on Burundi mandated us to assist the parties to work out the implementation details. Another key pending task is the facilitation of the discussion of outstanding political issues, which could not be finalised during negotiations.

These include:

The return to constitutional legitimacy
Issues relating to post-war management
The transitional period and its leaders
The welfare of the combatants after the ceasefire
The location of the combatants.
Issues such as good governance, reconciliation and reconstruction of the country.
In terms of the agreement signed, the negotiation on these issues will not constitute pre-conditions for the implementation of the ceasefire.

Mr President, the implementation process is a difficult and involved one that requires the strong support of the international community, especially the United Nations. We are aware of the stringent prescripts of the United Nations, including the difficulties of deploying peacekeeping forces where there is no total ceasefire as in Burundi. But we believe that creativity and innovation in terms of looking at the situation would make it possible for the United Nations to become involved.

The 19th Heads of State Summit directed the Palipehutu FNL to enter into negotiations immediately and conclude a ceasefire agreement by the 30th of December or face robust sanctions. We will be interacting with the movement shortly to arrange negotiations.

In addition, the uniqueness of the Burundi agreement has necessitated the provision that combatants should move to assembly areas armed. The weapons will be taken away from them and stored in an armoury to which they will have access should the need arise, again a provision unique to Burundi, allowed in order to allay fears. One of the critical tasks of the African Mission will be the monitoring of the movements of the belligerents to the assembly areas with their arms.

We trust that the less than perfect nature of the Burundi ceasefire situation would not stand in the way of UN support, especially given that there are examples in other countries which went through similar circumstances, such as our neighbours Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

We appeal for an understanding of the Burundi problem. Given the nature of the conflict, we were never going to have a straightforward ceasefire agreement.

The process has been complicated by the fact that there are more than one belligerent parties, all with divergent demands, and who had to be engaged separately and differently. The Security Council delegation that visited South Africa in April discovered what we were dealing with when the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza refused to meet the Council delegation in the same room as the CNDD-FDD of Jean Bosco.

We believe support of such a unique situation is possible in terms of Chapter 8 of the Charter of the United Nations, which supports the establishment of regional initiatives for the resolution of conflicts, provided such arrangements are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, as well as Chapter 6, which provides for the use of regional initiatives for the resolution of disputes, without an active direct involvement but full support by the UN.

The African Mission and other structures to be set up will require the support of the United Nations apparatus to ensure success.

Other areas of UN support that we will soon be asking for include training, integration support, and other humanitarian assistance particularly for returning combatants, especially those who cannot be integrated into the security forces.

Allow me at this juncture, Mr President, to sincerely thank the United Nations secretary general, Mr Kofi Annan, and the UN Security Council for unwavering support provided so far. We are here today because we know we can count on your continued support.

We must also record our gratitude for the assistance provided by the United Nations in providing military experts who worked with South African and Tanzanian military experts in drafting the cease-fire agreement discussed and signed by the belligerent parties. The contribution of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Burundi, Ambassador Berhanu Dinka, is also extremely valuable to us.

I must also use this opportunity to thank the Heads of State of the Great Lakes region for their continued support to the process. I also wish to single out President Yoweri of Uganda, the Chairperson of the Regional Initiative on Burundi, for his unwavering support to the Facilitation team.

Since its launch, the African Union has also played a critical role in the Burundi peace process alongside the UN. The AU participates actively through the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Mamadou Bah.

In addition, the Chairperson of the African Union, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has taken a hands-on approach to conflict resolution in the Great Lakes region and we value his contribution to the process, not least by allowing his deputy to spend so much time on Burundi matters!

Mr President, once again, thank you for allowing me this honour to interact with the Security Council today. We have come a long way with the Burundi peace process, and know that we cannot achieve the results we seek if we work alone. We need the wholehearted support of the International Community.

We are convinced that peace will be sustained, for we have experience in that regard. Many conflict analysts initially thought the Pretoria agreement between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo would be impossible to implement, and within deadline, Rwanda left the DRC.

Many others thought the Arusha agreement would not be concluded in 2000 and it was, and they thought there would never be a transitional government in Burundi, and it was installed in November last year. This shows that all that is required is the determination to succeed.

Burundi is now poised for peace, and we hope we can count on the International Community to invest in that peace, and ensure that we eliminate conflict once and for all in Burundi.

I thank you.


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