UNSG envoy to Burundi called on to help preserve Arusha Agreement and Constitution

Political and non-profit leaders have told the UNSG envoy to Burundi that the international community should persuade Burundi government to uphold the Arusha Peace Agreement and Constitution.

Michel Kafando, UNSG envoy to Burundi

Michel Kafando, UNSG envoy to Burundi

Some NGOs and political parties have asked the UNSG Special Envoy to Burundi, Michel Kafando, to ask the UN and international community to try and win over the Burundi government to preserve the Arusha Agreement and to delay amending the Constitution.

Mr. Kafando held a meeting with leaders of political parties and NGOs this Tuesday in Bujumbura.

Tatien Sibomana, a political opponent, says he told the UNSG envoy that the Arusha Peace Agreement that ended a decade long civil war in 2005 is the foundation of peace, stability, democracy, good governance and reconciliation among Burundians.

“We emphasized the indispensable role of the UN, AU and EAC in making sure the agreement is preserved and fully implemented”, says Sibomana.

He also told Kafando that the UN should dissuade the ongoing government’s motion to amend the Constitution that ensued from the Arusha Agreement.

“The amendment to the Constitution by the ruling party alone and in the current instable security and political context, would be breaching the agreement and damaging the positive changes it has brought to the country”, he says.

“Inclusive dialogue”

The UN should also promote inclusive dialogue organised by the EAC facilitation in Arusha and convince the government to take part in it, says Sibomana.

The government and the ruling party claim that since some important personalities had returned from exile and that it is now possible to hold meetings between the government and with all political actors in Burundi, there is no more need of any further talks in Arusha.

Faustin Ndikumana, Chairman of PARCEM, also spoke for the preservation of the Arusha Agreement. “It is the only document on which all Burundian political actors agree on”.

He also says any attempt to amend the Constitution should be careful not to be counterproductive to the progress Burundi has already made by implementing the Arusha Peace Agreement.

Ndikumana says the international community should persuade the government to see the need of an external dialogue that would include stakeholders who were not able to take part in the inter-Burundian dialogue the government organised in Burundi.

Gilbert Bécaud Njangwa, Chairman of the NGO Onelop and who holds the same talk as the government that“peace and stability reign”, says any dialogue should take place in Burundi and not outside.

Njangwa says the UN should also help fight impunity in Burundi. “The UN should not hold the same talk as the EU that says all exiled Burundians should be treated equally ignoring there are some who have committed crimes”, says Njangwa.

The government has issued international arrest warrants against political actors and civil rights defenders who were suspected of taking part in the 2015 failed coup.

In its effort to help end the political deadlock the country sank in after the failed coup, the UN has sent a number of envoys that the government has challenged after they made damning reports.

Kafando is serving as a third UNSG envoy since his nomination last April. The current visit is his second after he met President Pierre Nkurunziza in June.