Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on the situation in Burundi, 14 June 2019

Mr President,

We thank Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Smail Chergui and Ambassador Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), Chairperson of the Burundi Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission for their insightful briefings on the evolving situation in Burundi and for their unwavering commitment to the process.

South Africa fully supports the continued facilitation process led by the East African Community (EAC) in the spirit of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, with the support of the African Union and the United Nations. We welcome the designation of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as the mediator of the process, with the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and President John Magufuli of Tanzania. In this regard, the work of former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania was invaluable. We also acknowledge the critical role played by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, former President Kafando as well as the Burundi Configuration of the PBC, under the able leadership of Ambassador Lauber.

Mr President,

At this juncture, however, South Africa considers it prudent to highlight the need for the Council to continuously coordinate the Council positions with those of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), when dealing with African issues.  Africa has very clearly defined regional organizations, which deal systematically with issues related to African peace and security.

In the case of Burundi, the EAC is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the Burundi process. South Africa had hoped that there would be greater appreciation for allowing the processes of the region to run its course that would then enrich discussions in the Security Council.  Allowing for regional processes to unfold is a key factor in Africa owning solutions to its own problems and enduring peace. We therefore look to the direction of the leadership of the East African Community and the African Union in charting the course on Burundi, with the assistance of and in coordination with the United Nations.

Mr President,

South Africa maintains that it is only through an inclusive dialogue that we can address any political impasse in Burundi, which requires the international community to lend support to the initiatives of the EAC. In this vein, we also call on the government of Burundi to create a conducive environment which facilitates dialogue with the key stakeholders of the EAC led process.

As a guarantor of the Arusha Agreement, and as part of Mandela’s legacy, South Africa always stands ready to support the Government and people of Burundi as they democratize their country, open more political space for all political parties and allow the media to play its role of informing society and spreading tolerance.

With regard to the political developments in Burundi we continue to be encouraged by the stable security situation in the country. We congratulate the Government of Burundi on initiating a number of preparatory process for the elections, especially the establishment of an Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), which is now operational. We welcome the adoption of the Burundian Electoral Code and their commitment to the 2018 Kayanza Road Map, which lays the foundation for peaceful elections in 2020.

We commend the decision of the government of Burundi to finance the elections with their national budget and we encourage Burundi to work closely with the East African Community and the African Union to create an environment conducive to free, fair, peaceful, democratic and inclusive elections, in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement. 

Mr President,

South Africa also welcomes the commitment by President Pierre Nkurunziza not to stand as candidate for the Presidential election in 2020, and look forward to the Government and the political parties working together to hold inclusive and peaceful elections. Burundians must be the beneficiaries of democratic elections that can deliver democracy and development with the assistance of the region. All parties must be permitted to canvass support countrywide, without hindrance. There should be no no-go areas for any politician and political party.

South Africa commends Burundi’s contribution to international peace and security through its deployment of more than 6,000 Burundian men and women in various peacekeeping operations, mostly in the Central African Republic and Somalia.

We call on the international community to support Burundi in strengthening their peacekeeping capacity, as it is of critical institutional value to the county. As a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council, Burundi is congratulated on remaining committed to the promotion of peace and security by contributing to silencing the guns in Africa.

Mr President,

South Africa is gravely concerned at the dire humanitarian situation in Burundi. We urge the Security Council and the international community to do more to alleviate the socio-economic challenges and humanitarian situation facing the people of Burundi and call on its partners to support the implementation of the ten-year National Development Plan for the benefit of the Burundian people. In this vein, we reiterate the call by the AU during it 32nd Summit for the European Union to lift the unilateral sanctions imposed against the Republic of Burundi.

We are encouraged by the ongoing voluntary repatriation movement of Burundian refugees, which saw 67,710 refugees voluntarily repatriated to Burundi, mainly from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the DRC, between August 2017 and May 2019. The increased return of refugees is a manifestation of a return to peace and stability in the country.  We urge the international community to support these efforts and call on them to provide assistance for the repatriation and reintegration of returnees.

Finally, we appeal to the Security Council and the international community to support the Government and the EAC mediation process to lay the foundation for an environment that is conducive to the holding of democratic elections, to support a peaceful transfer of power, in order to ensure peace and stability beyond 2020.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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