The situation in Burundi
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Wang Yingfan
|Mr. De la Sablière
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Burundi
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, and in the absence of objection, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 37 of its provisional rules of procedure to the Deputy President of South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
On behalf of the Council, I extend a warm welcome to the Deputy President of South Africa.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Burundi, in which he requests to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
I give the floor to the Deputy President of South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma.
Thank you, Mr. President, for affording me the opportunity to address the Security Council today. It is indeed an honour and a privilege.
I find it important and prudent to brief the Security Council in pursuance of the common objective of security, peace and stability on the African continent in general, and in Burundi in particular. The efforts to find peace in Burundi are being made within the context of our overall objective of creating a climate of peace, order, stability and sustainable development on the African continent. We are fully aware that the United Nations shares that vision and that mission.
Today’s meeting is a follow-up to the visit by a Security Council delegation to South Africa in April of this year. I had indicated to the delegation that I would come to New York to brief the Security Council on progress in the ceasefire negotiations. That intention was endorsed by the Nineteenth Great Lakes regional Summit on Burundi, which was held a few days ago, on 1 and 2 December. The heads of State attending the meeting believed that it was important that we should keep the Security Council informed and actively involved in the process of cementing peace in the region.
It has been more than two years since former President Nelson Mandela, the chief mediator in the Burundi conflict, asked me to facilitate ceasefire negotiations between the belligerent parties in Burundi. There were two armed groups 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 with 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 expertise and capacity. Later on, we also requested Tanzania to help, particularly with regard to relations with the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza.
When we last met with the Security Council delegation in South Africa, earlier 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 characterized by the issuing of preconditions and demands, many of which had already been addressed, or were being addressed, through the Arusha Agreement of 2000. Many of them were indeed also being implemented by the Government of Burundi. There was also a sense from the armed groups of not accepting the Arusha Agreement and of seeking to negotiate a new type of agreement outside of Arusha. There was also an impression on the part of the armed groups that the international community supported their reluctance to negotiate and conclude a ceasefire. The unequivocal support of the Security Council delegation for the peace process and the message it gave to the armed groups directing them to enter into negotiations immediately and without conditions eliminated the wrong impression of sympathy held by the armed movements. The leadership provided by the Security Council in that regard was indeed invaluable.
Given the difficulties we have faced in the past, it is therefore pleasing and encouraging that we are today meeting with the Security Council in a climate of optimism and hope. Only two days ago, President Pierre Buyoya signed a ceasefire agreement with Pierre Nkurunziza of the CNDD-FDD at Arusha, Tanzania. On 7 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 to continued suffering by ordinary innocent people in Burundi.
When the Arusha Agreement was signed, on 28 August 2000, all the signatories and stakeholders understood that it would remain incomplete until a ceasefire agreement was concluded. That meant that the resources that were pledged by the international community for the implementation of the Arusha Agreement were kept in abeyance until that requirement was fulfilled. The Council will recall that, at the request of former President Mandela at Paris in 2000, international donors pledged $440 million in aid to war-weary Burundi, subject to the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement. The serious and challenging work of implementing the agreements has now begun.
The signatories of the 7 October document — President Buyoya, Alain Mugabarabona of PALIPEHUTU-FNL and Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye of CNDD-FDD — have already held three meetings, in Pretoria and Dar-es-Salam, to unpack the details on various implementation issues. Those include the return to Burundi of former fighters and leaders, the participation of former armed movements in the transitional institutions of the State and Parliament, and issues relating to disarmament and demobilization and to the building of a new, inclusive security apparatus in the country.
With regard to the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza, the agreement will come into force on 30 December 2002. The first 14 days after the date of signature have been designated as a period to allow the belligerents to communicate to their rank and file the decision to stop fighting. Under the agreement, the truce or the cessation of fighting is to enter into force with 72 hours of signing. By 30 December, the combatants should have commenced their movement towards the assembly areas. Within thirty days the parties are 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 is to set up the organs and machinery required for the control and verification of the ceasefire.
The Nineteenth Summit Meeting 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 that could not be finalized during negotiations. Those issues, among others, 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 and the reconciliation and reconstruction of the country. Those issues are part of the annex to the agreement. Under the agreement signed, negotiations on those issues will not constitute preconditions for the implementation of the ceasefire.
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 not a total ceasefire, as in Burundi. We say not total because of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL. But we believe that creativity and innovation in looking at the situation would make it possible for the United Nations to become involved. The nineteenth summit of heads of State directed the PALIPEHUTU-FNL to enter into negotiations immediately and conclude a ceasefire agreement by 30 December, or face robust sanctions. We will be interacting with the movement shortly to arrange negotiations, because the Summit Meeting again felt it was necessary to give PALIPEHUTU-FNL another chance.
In addition, the uniqueness of the Burundi agreement has necessitated the provision that combatants should move to assembly areas armed. Weapons will be taken away from them and stored in an armoury to which they will have access, should the need arise. Again, that is a provision unique to Burundi, allowed in order to allay fears. One of the critical tasks of the African mission will be to monitor the movements of the belligerents to the assembly areas with their arms.
I also wish to add that that was considered because, as you know, Mr. President, in the Great Lakes region the conflict has tended to involve mass killings, massacres and genocide. Therefore, the fears by the CNDD that, if they were unarmed or had no arms near them while the army was armed, that could prejudice them, and we could therefore end up with a situation of that nature. That is why that arrangement was necessary.
We trust that the less-than-perfect nature of the Burundi ceasefire will not stand in the way of United Nations support, especially given the fact that there have been precedents for such ceasefire arrangements. We have in mind Mozambique and Zimbabwe in our region, although the situations might not be identical. We believe that, when the Security Council considers the matter, it will take this into account. We appeal for understanding of the Burundian problem. Given the nature of the conflict, we are never going to have a straightforward and classical ceasefire agreement. We made this point when the Security Council visited South Africa. That was precisely the reason why we thought it would be important to come to the Security Council as we have done. The process has been complicated by the fact that there are more than one belligerent party, all with divergent demands, which had to be engaged separately and differently. The Security Council delegation that visited South Africa in April had some experience with the problem when the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza refused to meet the Council delegation in the same room as the CNDD-FDD of Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye.
We believe that support of such a unique situation is possible under Chapter VIII of the Charter, 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 VI, which provides for the use of regional initiatives for the resolution of disputes without the active, direct involvement of but with the full support of the United Nations.
We consider the introduction of the African mission as a bridging instrument, opening the situation for the United Nations to come in when we have perfected the conditions. 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 United Nations 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. We will certainly be discussing more issues in that regard, because we believe that the role of the United Nations will be very critical in making this mission a success.
Allow me at this juncture to sincerely thank Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council for this unwavering support provided while we have been involved in this process. We are here today because we know we can count on your unique and continued support.
I am sure it will interest the Council to know that as we discussed the ceasefire, all parties kept on mentioning the United Nations. This indicates their confidence that the Organization’s participation boosts confidence and makes people implement what would be difficult to implement without that participation in one form or the other.
We must also record our gratitude for United Nations assistance in providing military experts, who worked with South African and Tanzanian military experts in drafting the ceasefire agreement as a basis for discussion, discussed and lent their assistance, up to the signing of the agreement among the belligerent parties.
The contribution of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi, Ambassador Berhanu Dinka, is also extremely valuable to all of us. We are grateful for this contribution. It has brought confidence and hope to the Burundians and to those who participated in these processes.
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 Museveni of Uganda, the Chairperson of the Regional Initiative on Burundi, for his unwavering support of the facilitation team. On the first and the second, he sat with us throughout the day and night as we negotiated the process.
Since its launching, the African Union (AU) has also played a critical role in the Burundi peace process, alongside the United Nations. As I have indicated, Ambassador Bah, who represented the AU, was always together with Ambassador Dinka. The AU participates actively through the special representative of the Secretary General of the AU. In addition, the Chairperson of the AU, 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.
Once again, Mr. President, thank you for allowing me the honour of interacting with you today. We have come a long way with the Burundi peace process, and we know that we cannot achieve the results we seek if we work alone. We need the wholehearted support of the United Nations and the international community.
We are convinced that peace will be sustained, for we have experience in this regard. Many people initially thought the Pretoria Agreement between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be impossible to implement; yet, within the deadline Rwanda left the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is therefore possible that with initiatives by Africans, and with the commitment shown by Africans, we can move and address the conflicts in the continent.
Again, many thought that the Arusha Agreement would not be concluded in 2000, and it was. They thought there would never be a transitional government in Burundi, yet it was installed on 1 November 2001. This shows that regional solutions work if people are determined to succeed. All they need is support from this body.
Burundi is now poised for peace. We hope we can count on the international community to invest in this peace and ensure that we eliminate conflict, once and for all, in Burundi.
I thank the Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma, for his very comprehensive briefing, which included some very good news and recounted some positive developments.
Since we do not have a list of speakers, I would invite Council members who wish to take the floor to indicate their intention to the Secretariat now.
The first speaker will be Mr. Jean-Marc de la Sablière, Permanent Representative of France, whom I would like to welcome very warmly. This is his first official meeting with the Security Council, and if he wishes to speak he may do so even in Spanish.
Mr. President, thank you for your words of welcome. It is a pleasure to be here in the Council once again and to work with you and the other members of the Council and with the Secretary-General and his representatives. I assure you that you can always count on my full cooperation and that of the French delegation.
The agreement signed on 2 December in Arusha is an indispensable link in the Burundi peace process. At a time when the Council has so often called for a cessation of hostilities, the principal rebel movement and the Government have finally signed a ceasefire agreement. It should bring about an end to hostilities between the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) and the Government by tomorrow. We can only be delighted with this agreement. Barely 10 days ago the FDD was still bombing Bujumbura.
We wish to pay tribute to the Burundian negotiators, in particular President Buyoya and Mr. Nkurunziza. We also wish to pay tribute to the heads of State of the region, in particular Deputy President Zuma. It was his tenacity and his determination to move ahead in the negotiations and his personal commitment that made the signing of the agreement finally possible. I am sure all the members of the Council are very grateful to him for his efforts.
Nevertheless, a great deal still remains to be done. The first priority is to make sure that the cessation of hostilities and the ceasefire to follow will become universal. This implies the National Liberation Forces (FNL), the other rebel group, joining the peace process launched by the Arusha Agreement of 28 August 2000. France will support the efforts of the Transitional Government of Burundi and those of the States of the Regional Initiative to bring the FNL into the current political process. We must also convince the remaining rebels that there will be benefits from the complete cessation of hostilities for the entire Burundian population: the economy will revive, taxes levied to finance the war will decline, and displaced people and refugees will be able to return to their homes. It will be up to the signatories — the Government and the FDD — to implement their commitments and make the necessary reforms, in particular as regards the army, that will help Burundi to return to the path of peace and stability, as dictated by the Arusha Agreement in August 2000.
The international community will also have a primary role to play. The donors must respect the commitments that they undertook last week in Geneva to support the Burundian peace processes. France, of course, will make its contribution, because we are well aware that a peace process has no chance to succeed if it lacks the means necessary for implementation.
Undoubtedly, the Security Council also has a part to play. The United Nations is already committed to the region and to facilitating the implementation of the Arusha process. In that regard, we must pay tribute to the efforts of Ambassador Dinka, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who will assist with the terms of the agreement of 2 December in defining certain ceasefire modalities. Furthermore, the Council will have to reflect on the support that it can provide to a possible African force or to whatever formula that the Secretary-General can recommend in support of the peace process, once all the parties have agreed to a ceasefire in Burundi.
In conclusion, I should like to recall that the situation in Burundi must clearly be considered within its regional context. The transitional authorities in Bujumbura must be encouraged to continue to work with their neighbours to make the borders secure. In particular, we must encourage the work under way between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo aimed at normalizing their relations, and they must be invited to define the appropriate mechanisms for military cooperation along their border.
The signing of the agreement of 2 December constitutes a new element that favours an international conference in the Great Lakes region, which has been requested by an increasing number of regional heads of State. That would enable us to make further progress on political issues and on the restoration of the rule of law, democracy and development in the region.
Let me begin by wishing Vice-President Zuma a very warm welcome to New York. We are very grateful for his briefing this afternoon. I should like to add that we are also very thankful to Deputy President Zuma for the way in which he has consistently maintained a relationship with the Security Council on this issue. I recall his very warm hospitality when we visited him in Pretoria in April. I should also like to welcome Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière to the Security Council.
The Government of Norway recognizes that the peace process in Burundi is at heart a regional initiative, but the Security Council is a partner and plays a vital role, and we, as the Council, must do our part. We, of course, welcome the ceasefire agreement between the Government and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD). That is a significant step, but it is far from sufficient to achieve peace in Burundi. We feel that, in many ways, it is important that the agreement now be followed through in all its aspects, including with regard to the FDD’s participation in the transitional arrangements, the army reform and the reintegration of demobilized soldiers.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to express concern over the potentially escalating tension, the situation on the ground in Burundi and the fact that the National Liberation Forces (FNL) remains outside the peace process, with no ceasefire agreement in place. It is very worrisome that progress may not be achieved with regard to that point in the near future.
The international community must do its utmost to contribute urgently to a solution with regard to the remaining challenges in the peace process in Burundi. In that spirit, we look forward to the Council consultations scheduled for this Friday. We will bear in mind what Vice-President Zuma has told us. Given the nature of the situation, no feasible measure must be left untried by the Council.
Through you, Mr. President, I should like to thank Deputy President Zuma for his extremely informative and helpful presentation. I should like to pay tribute to him and to his country for their efforts in Burundi and elsewhere on the African continent. On behalf of my delegation, let me also welcome Ambassador de la Sablière to the Council. My delegation very much agrees with the points that he made and also with the points made by Ambassador Strømmen.
We very much welcome the ceasefire agreement; it is a positive step forward. But it will also be important to follow it up, to implement it and to continue the negotiations, particularly with the aim of including the National Liberation Forces (FNL).
Through you, Mr. President, I should like to ask the Vice-President three quick questions. The first is how the integration of Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) into the political process will work in practice and how it will fit in with plans to integrate the other two factions that have already signed up — Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye’s National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the FNL faction led by Alain Mugabarabona — and how that will affect the hand-over to the Transitional National Government’s second phase next May. Secondly, given that it is highly unlikely that the Burundi armed forces will be able to return to their barracks and carry out normal duties while the FNL is still operating, how is it envisaged that that will be handled? Thirdly, how is it envisaged that the FDD forces operating outside Burundi will be included in the process?
We should like to thank Deputy President Zuma for coming to New York and for his detailed and comprehensive briefing to the Council. We should also like to welcome our new colleague from France, Ambassador de la Sablière, to the Council. We believe that the French delegation will continue to play a positive and active role in the Security Council, as it has in the past. China also supports and highly appreciates the South African Government, especially Deputy President Zuma, for its efforts to achieve peace and stability in Burundi.
In Burundi’s peace process, the ceasefire agreement is the key. We are very much pleased that the agreement has made important progress, but there are certain problems. As Deputy President Zuma pointed out, this is a very complicated question. The Nineteenth Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government will continue to pursue efforts in that regard.
I should like to raise only one question. Under these circumstances, what does the Deputy President think the Security Council should do to advance the peace process in Burundi, especially the signing of the agreement, and what can the Council do to cooperate with him in his efforts?
The delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic is pleased to welcome very warmly Mr. Jacob Zuma, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. We should like to thank him for the sincere message of peace that he brought to the Council. We should also like to express our great appreciation for his successful efforts that led to the signing of the agreement on 2 December in Arusha to put an end to the conflict in Burundi and to achieve peace in that country, which has suffered greatly and now deserves to live in peace so that its friendly people can have the opportunity to build a new and developed Burundi.
I should also like to welcome Ambassador de la Sablière, the new Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, and to reaffirm our full cooperation with him in the coming phase of the Council’s work.
I should also like to pay tribute to President Mbeki of South Africa, which holds the current presidency of the African Union and of the Non-Aligned Movement, for his constructive efforts to bring about peace in Burundi and in other parts of the African continent. We would also like to welcome the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of Burundi and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy, and we look forward to the forthcoming Council consultations, during which we will be discussing the new developments in Burundi.
We listened attentively to Mr. Zuma’s very important statement, and we took note of all the proposals and opinions therein. We noted in particular the opinions he expressed and the role he assigns to the international community, especially the Security Council, to implement, fully and successfully, the agreement that has been signed on Burundi. The delegation of Syria would like to reaffirm its support for the proposals that Mr. Zuma submitted with regard to the role of the Security Council. I would like to reiterate the important role to be played by the donor countries in making the agreement that has been signed a great success.
I, too, would like, on behalf of my delegation, to thank Deputy President Zuma for his very comprehensive briefing and for travelling to New York to brief the Council today. I would also like to express strong support and appreciation for the Deputy President’s efforts in helping to resolve one of the most complex challenges to peace in Africa, and for the leading role played by South Africa, including by former President Mandela, in this process. This reflects well on the African Union’s attempt to find African solutions to the problems of the region. It is also important today to express strong support and appreciation for the efforts of the regional initiative.
Like other speakers, I would like to welcome our new colleague from France, Ambassador de la Sablière, to the Council.
As Deputy President Zuma said, this is good news for Burundi, for Africa and for peace. It is important now for both sides to follow up their words and signatures with deeds and actions, and to fully observe the ceasefire. It is also important to keep up the momentum and to keep pressure on the parties to reach early agreement on how to bring the Forces for the Defence of Democracy into the power-sharing arrangements. Clearly, it is crucial that the sides implement agreements on the reform of the security sector and the structure of the army. The transition clock continues to tick, with the handover of power in Burundi due to take place in May. Any slippage could be damaging for the process and for the progress that has been achieved. As my colleagues emphasized this afternoon, it is also important to keep pressure on the National Liberation Forces to join the process.
Nonetheless — and this point came out strongly in the Deputy President’s statement — after nine years of conflict and close to 300,000 deaths, the agreement is a major breakthrough. It offers a way forward to allow a divided country to come together. It builds on Arusha and the establishment of the Transitional Government last November. Of course, there are challenges and problems involved that have to be faced. But the hope far outweighs them.
The breakthrough is also important in view of the deterioration in an already appalling humanitarian situation. The increase in the number of internally displaced persons, the threat posed to civilians by armed groups and the food security situation are all of deep concern. This breakthrough will have important implications for access to populations in need and will begin at last to put Burundi on the road to recovery and development.
It is now important for donors to honour the pledges made, including those made at the donor conference this week. The budgetary position in Burundi is appalling, and major social programmes are needed. It is one of the very poorest countries in the world, and the peace that has now been achieved deserves a chance.
Deputy President Zuma spoke of the wider goal of creating a climate of peace, order, stability and sustainable development on the African continent. The developments in Burundi this week are an important contribution to this. It is now important for the Security Council and the international community to support, in every way possible, the agreement and the wider peace process.
I, too, would like to thank Deputy President Zuma for his very interesting and useful briefing today. We were already viewing the 2 December agreement as a significant step forward, and Deputy President Zuma’s detailed briefing has confirmed our optimism about the developments of the situation in Burundi.
I have just one question to ask, and it is very similar to the question already asked by the representative of China. I wanted to ask what more the Security Council could do to help; that just goes to show that Security Council members are of a similar mind with regard to our commitment to try to do our best to help Burundi. I will still ask my question, because it is focused on the issue of the transfer of the presidency, which is less than six months away. Deputy President Zuma mentioned that the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, needs to continue to play a role in Burundi. I would like to ask whether he has any specific suggestions about how the Security Council can help to bring about the transfer successfully and on schedule.
I would like to warmly welcome Deputy President Zuma and to thank him for his important statement. I would also like, on behalf of my country, to thank the South African Government for the very commendable efforts that they have been making to restore peace and stability to the Great Lakes region, and to Burundi in particular. I would also like to thank the other facilitators for their valuable contributions to the resolution of the conflict in the region.
My delegation welcomes the recent signing in Arusha of a ceasefire agreement between the Transitional Government of Burundi and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy — the main opposition party. We believe that that represents an important step forward towards a comprehensive ceasefire among all the Burundian parties. In that connection, we appeal to those movements that have not yet done so to return to the negotiating table, to work for peace and put an end to the terrible suffering of the people of Burundi. We also appeal to the signatories of the ceasefire agreement to abide by their commitments and to translate into reality the fervent aspirations of the people of Burundi, who truly desire to live in peace and to benefit from peace.
We also appeal to the donors to continue their financial support for the peace process, so that there can be a lasting and definitive peace in Burundi.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my delegation’s full support for the third parties in their ongoing efforts to resolve the crisis in Burundi.
I, too, would like warmly to welcome Deputy President Jacob Zuma and to thank him for his excellent statement, which was particularly useful to us. I should also like, on behalf of my delegation, to welcome Ambassador de la Sablière.
My delegation would like to express its appreciation for the information provided by Deputy President Zuma on the positive developments that have taken place recently in Burundi, in particular the agreement just signed between the Transitional Government and the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD).
My delegation would pay tribute to all those who have contributed to these developments, in particular the Burundian negotiators and the heads of State of the region. We warmly welcome the commendable efforts made by Deputy President Jacob Zuma as well as his important contribution to the negotiations aimed at achieving a ceasefire in Burundi. We would like also to endorse his appeal to the international community to provide ongoing assistance to Burundi in the implementation of the agreement that was just concluded, with a view to the restoration of peace and stability to Burundi.
The Deputy President stressed one very important point which is a challenge to the Security Council in many respects. He spoke of the trust that all of the combatants have in the United Nations and in its vision of a just and lasting peace. Do we have the right to dash such hopes? Of course we cannot.
The statement made by the Deputy President also highlighted the capacity of regional organizations to contribute positively to the maintenance of peace and security. In that connection, he stressed the support expected from the international community in respect of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
Lastly, my delegation would like to ask two questions. First, what is the likelihood of bringing the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People-National Liberation Forces (PALIPEHUTU-FNL), which remains on the margins of the peace process, into that process, with a view to concluding a ceasefire agreement, as the heads of State of the region have urged?
I think that some other speakers may have already asked my second question, which relates to the role that the Burundian parties expect the United Nations and the international community to play in the effective implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
We, too, welcome Deputy President Zuma to this Chamber today and thank him for coming all the way to New York to brief us on the Burundi peace process. At the same time, we also welcome the new Permanent Representative of France.
My delegation would like to congratulate the Government of South Africa for its very constructive role in the quest for peace, not only in Burundi but in the whole Great Lakes region. We would like to commend Deputy President Zuma for the personal efforts he deployed in trying to encourage the Burundian parties to reach a ceasefire agreement. We also are grateful to President Mandela for his contribution to the Burundi peace process.
Like other delegations, we welcome the ceasefire agreement that was signed between the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the Transitional Government this week. This leads us to believe that there is no justification for the National Liberation Forces (FNL) to remain outside the peace process. In this respect, we hope that the FNL joins the peace process before the end of the year, and we should therefore keep the pressure on them.
In spite of the efforts being deployed by the Transitional Government, the serious economic constraints faced by Burundi is creating a difficult situation in which the Burundian population is not seeing a real dividend of peace. We recognize that some of the funds pledged by international donors have been disbursed to help the Transitional Government. In the same vein, we would appeal to the international community to assist Burundi in alleviating this situation, so that its people can see the dividends of peace.
Finally, my delegation fully shares the optimism expressed by Deputy President Zuma and would like to assure him of our full support.
We believe that the 3 December signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) faction, led by Pierre Nkurunziza, and the Government of Burundi is a significant step towards achieving peace in that country. We would like to express our sincere and deep appreciation for the facilitation efforts led by South African Deputy President Zuma and conducted with the assistance of President Bongo of Gabon and President Mkapa of Tanzania.
In addition, we would like to express our appreciation to the Regional Initiative and to its Chairman, President Museveni of Uganda, for their contributions to the peace process.
While we do not intend to diminish the achievements of the Facilitation or the contributions of the Regional Initiative, we believe that, despite the ceasefire agreement, the situation in Burundi still warrants close monitoring by the Security Council. Specifically, the Council should seek to encourage all parties to observe the provisions of the ceasefire agreement, while remaining alert to any indicators that the situation is devolving towards a mass killing scenario.
In addition, we remain concerned that the FNL, led by Agathon Rwasa, continues its campaign of violence, refuses to sign a ceasefire agreement and remains outside of the Arusha process. We believe that the leaders of those armed groups that have remained outside of the process must face consequences. We support the call by President Museveni for regionally imposed sanctions.
Bulgaria, like other delegations, welcomed the Ceasefire Agreement signed in Arusha on 3 December last between the Government of Burundi and the main armed group, the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD). That was an extremely positive development.
I should like to commend South Africa and the Facilitator, Deputy President Zuma, for their tireless efforts in support of peace in Burundi. Deputy President Zuma has been extremely persistent and resolute in his work, and we pay tribute to him for his efforts.
However, nothing has yet been definitively achieved, because not all of the people of Burundi have chosen peace. Achieving a comprehensive ceasefire is crucial. It is crucial that the National Liberation Forces (FNL) of Agathon Rwasa rejoin the peace negotiations and that progress be made in the talks with two other, smaller groups — Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye’s National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and Alain Mugarabona’s National Liberation Forces (FNL).
I have one question for Deputy President Zuma: what does he think the chances are that those groups will end up joining the ceasefire agreement?
I will now make a statement in my capacity as representative of Colombia.
I would especially like to express that it is an honour for us to meet with Deputy President Zuma, the Facilitator of the peace process in Burundi. I must especially thank him, on behalf of my country, for his briefing and his very valuable information. To him, and through him to the Government of President Mbeki, I would like to acknowledge everything they are doing to contribute to peace in Africa in the chairmanship of the African Union. That contribution is enhanced by the facilitating management of President Nelson Mandela and the agreement reached on a transitional Government.
In the case of Burundi, we share in the satisfaction of other delegations that a ceasefire agreement has been reached between the Government of President Pierre Buyoya and the rebel group of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) led by Mr. Nkurunziza. We feel that an important obstacle to reconciliation among the people of Burundi has been overcome, although we know that there are still many others in the arduous path towards peace.
After two years on the Council and two visits to the country, we have seen first-hand the stamina for peace. We therefore believe that there is considerable room for action by the international community, African countries in particular. There are promises of international assistance for the socio-economic reconstruction of the country. There is the possibility of imposing international sanctions on the National Liberation Forces (FNL). An agreement has been reached establishing an African mission to verify and monitor the ceasefire.
My delegation would like to ask Deputy President Zuma for more detailed information on that African mission, particularly on its composition. Would it be comprised exclusively of African countries, or might it perhaps include personnel from elsewhere? What would be its relationship to a possible United Nations peacekeeping mission? I would also like to hear his opinion on the FNL’s attitude towards the ceasefire and about what kind of sanctions might be envisaged, to be imposed by countries members of the Regional Initiative — if that sort of details has been considered.
I now resume my functions as President of the Council.
I now give the floor to Deputy President Jacob Zuma to respond to the observations that have been made and to make any final comments he has.
I thank the Council for the comments made and the questions asked. I will try to respond.
One of the questions that many members have asked is how will the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and others be integrated into the Transitional Government. All parties signed the Arusha Agreement, but the Burundi Government has passed an act stating that the parties that come in will have to sign that act, committing themselves to participating. Having done that, they have to come in.
The issue has been raised with the Burundi Government, because if those parties were not there at the installation of the Transitional Government, it means that they are not party to the Government at the moment. You have the Government and all the existing institutions such as the Parliament. The question is: how will those groups come in? I do not think that they have any alternative to coming in; they have to come in. First, if groups are party to an agreement, you cannot envisage a situation in which, when some of the provisions of the agreement are implemented, those groups are not party to the decision-making or are not part of the implementation of that decision. So, of necessity, they have got to be part of the institutions. There is no difficulty about it. They have got to participate at the executive level, as well as in the Parliament. And they have also made the point about civil servants.
However, that raises a new challenge, because the Transitional Government is, by nature, bigger than the Government that has always existed in Burundi. It had to accommodate all 19 parties. The inclusion of the parties that have signed the agreement will mean further expansion of that Government. The question is, how can we support that? It will need resources as well. You cannot have them sign the agreement and not participate in planning and taking decisions on how the Government will work. That is the challenge. There is no difficulty having all sides agree that they are going to participate. What is left is working out the details: how it will be done and what percentage of the new parties coming in will participate?
I would imagine that the support we are talking about will certainly include that process of integration, because for peace we do need the parties coming in to participate. In fact, it might be more important for those who came late to be shown the benefits of signing and therefore of participating. I am also optimistic that it will not be difficult for the international community, the United Nations, to help in this. Because of the three-year period that has been allowed for this process in Burundi, there are actually two years left. So, any financial support for this year has a very definite time period within which you might have to take action. I would imagine that, after discussion among the parties, they will be able to come up with very specific requirements on the material support that they will need. But there is no problem in everyone agreeing that this should happen.
One of the questions was how will the army operate, given the FNL factor. I think that quite a number of questions have arisen on that issue. It was taken into account when the two parties were reaching an agreement. That is why, on the question of the army, while the army will take a clear, defensive posture and will also have heavy armaments that were meant to attack and deal with the armed groups, it will have to be limited.
But the point is taken that, while FNL is there, one will expect certain elements of the army to be specifically charged with the task of dealing with that issue. As to the details, they will be worked out, first, by the army and, secondly, by the Joint Commission. In fact, both parties agreed that they will collaborate and work together to ensure that they are able to deal with the issue of FNL.
The other question has been: How will the CNDD-FDD forces that are outside the country come back? Certainly, those are the details that are going to be worked out together by the Joint Commission. Those who are inside will move in a particular way to the assembly points, as the Agreement stipulates, but those who are outside will also have to be transported back into the country. A mechanism will be worked out, but, again, bringing those forces from outside is one element that will need support. Of course, one would imagine, whatever the forces may be — since these are the two forces that signed before — that this will cover all of them.
The other question is: What are the possibilities of FNL coming into the process? I believe that the possibilities are there. The call was made by the summit very deliberately that FNL should come and quickly conclude the agreement before 30 December and that if did not do so — as this was the second chance that was given to FNL — appropriate action would be taken. I think there is a determination by the region that we cannot have a situation in which the peace process is undermined by one party, when about 22 parties have signed the Agreement. They all committed to peace and this party that defines itself as outside peace will be defining itself as anti-peace.
Therefore, decisions will be taken. Whether there will be a summit or not I do not know, but it did not seem that the heads of State wanted to call a summit on this issue alone. I think they have, in a sense, a position they would like to take, but they have felt it necessary to persuade FNL to come into the process and have instructed me to try my level best to persuade it to do so. I have started communicating with FNL. I have a hope that it will come in, because when we last met it stipulated its preconditions. But the bulk of those preconditions are actually the issues that are being addressed already within Bujumbura. One example is the issue of political prisoners, on which there has been a lot of work done with the participation of the United Nations.
So I believe that, now that the CNDD-FDD has taken a decision to be part of this Agreement, that in itself is going to impact positively on the FNL. We will see in the course of December how that one goes. I do not think one can give a categorical answer as to whether it is going to come in or not, but since I have engaged with FNL over two years, it has never said that it was not committed to peace. All it has been putting across is certain conditions, and I believe, given the situation — and I think that, as a movement, it must also be analysing the situation — that with the signing by the CNDD-FDD, FNL has no other group to stand with and refuse to sign. So I am hopeful that it will sign and come into the process. It has been reported that FNL has publicly welcomed this Agreement and that in itself seems to me to be a positive indication on its part.
The other question that has been asked by a number of members is: What do we think the Security Council or the United Nations could do to help? Well, I think that this body is more experienced in matters of this nature and will certainly know what it is that needs to be done to help such a situation. But of course, I think it would be fair to say that we are expecting a number of things that we believe the United Nations could do.
This agreement, as we explained, is not like a classic kind of agreement that is reached, particularly because we still have the FNL factor and the combatants of the CNDD-FDD coming into the assembly points. Only there are their arms taken from them and stored within. That is precisely the reason why the heads of State thought it was important to come in with the African mission so that we could deal with that situation and not ask the impossible from the Security Council, given the rules that are in effect.
If we were to do that, however, we would certainly need support, while understanding, as the heads of State understand it, that this is a bridging mechanism to open and clear the way so that we have a perfect situation for the United Nations to come into. It is going to need support because, as members know, the African countries do not have all the resources. Here, they are going to put the commitment into action, but they are going to need support from the Security Council to bolster that effort. One specific action might be, for example, to airlift those forces, wherever they are. That help will be necessary so that they are able to arrive on time. Of course, that will mean not necessarily that the Security Council will have to commit troops, but that there will be that kind of support.
There is also going to be the need for support to feed the combatants who are going to be at the assembly points. One member asked about the strength of the CNDD-FDD. It is always difficult to give the accurate strength of a movement of that nature, but they are counted in the thousands. Some people talk about 10,000 or more people who are going to emerge. Certainly, the United Nations will have to support them.
I think there will be other things to be supported. One is something that I talked about — the process of integration into the Transitional Government institutions of the new people who are coming in and assistance in strengthening those institutions as well. But there are also the issues of technical support. As members can see, the time frames are not long. The African Union has not elaborated the manner in which these things should be done in terms of how to deal with peacekeeping if it has to do so from the beginning. While the Constitutive Act of the African Union says that this is what the continent must do, it is still developing that capacity, so we will certainly benefit from the expertise of the United Nations in the process of planning and discussing the implementation. We believe that this is among the things on which the United Nations could help.
The United Nations could also call upon the international community — particularly the donors who have been holding the funds, since there has been no ceasefire — to release those funds now that the biggest group has signed the ceasefire Agreement. They will be very helpful in terms of making the country able to deal with the processes in which it is involved.
Those are some of the areas that will need support from the Security Council. We believe that it should not be difficult for the Security Council to be able to provide it. I take it that some of the questions that have been asked were, in a sense, repeated and that, in answering the few that I have answered, they have actually dealt with that issue, including the question on how the FNL sees itself, the agreement and the process.
I think, at the end, I must express our gratitude for the support that the Security Council has shown in this matter. This is more than pleasing, more than encouraging, particularly as we are dealing with a number of problems in the continent. Take it from us; we are very committed to dealing with those problems. As I have indicated, the Constitutive Act of the African Union specifically addresses the problems in the continent. As you know, in the NEPAD we have also identified the problems of conflict as the main obstacle. Therefore, we are in the process of dealing with this.
Your support for this agreement is really welcome, and in any case, this is what we expected from this Organization, because it is in keeping with the beliefs and, indeed, with the mission of the United Nations. Thank you very much for the support. I am convinced that from here on we will be in a better position to work with confidence and understanding that there is support by this body for what we are doing. With the Council’s support I am sure that we will do more than we have.
The other possible thing that might be done to the FNL — and the heads of State have talked about this — is the possible sanctions. Of course, I must also say that the FNL is not as big as the CNDD-FDD. It operates more in rural areas of Bujumbura and has been confined in one place most of the time, unlike the CNDD-FDD.
So we believe that what is happening — and particularly with the Council’s support here, and the call upon the FNL to come into the process — must have an impact.
I thank the Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma, for participating in this meeting, for having been willing to report directly to the Council on progress in negotiations and for the new information he has given us and his responses to the concerns voiced by various members of the Council.
The Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.