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Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

13 September 2007

Johan Løvald (Norway), Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific meetings on Burundi, said today he had detected a sense of uncertainty in the country arising from a deadlock in Parliament; the suspension of the work of the Joint Verification Monitoring Mechanism created under the September 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and the Palipehutu-FNL (Front national de libération); and the very difficult budgetary situation in the country.

Briefing correspondents on his recent visit to Burundi, from 5 to 7 July, he said he had felt it was important to deplore the loss of life and population displacement from the northern neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, the capital, which had added to the anxiety and despair. Until recently, the country had made great strides towards consolidating peace, as recorded after the Peacebuilding Commission’s visit there in April.

Following his fourth visit to Burundi in less than a year, he had left Bujumbura with a sense that the Government and its national partners were determined to deal with the issues causing the current crisis. President Pierre Nkurunziza and the leaders of the political parties had initiated a series of discussions aimed at understanding their respective positions and expectations. Hopefully, appropriate measures would be taken to ensure that the political and institutional crisis did not recur.

He said the aim of the visit, from 5 to 7 September, had been to obtain a first-hand view of the political and security situation on the ground; to identify how the Peacebuilding Commission could most effectively support national and regional initiatives in addressing the present political and security situation; and to discuss with the Government and other stakeholders issues pertaining to the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi and development of its monitoring and tracking mechanism. Concluded in June, that document represented a partnership between the United Nations and the international community, including the Bretton Woods institutions, on the one hand, and the Government of Burundi on the other. Its importance lay in its demonstration of the obligations of all involved in consolidating peace in Burundi.

Noting that the African Union, the regional peace initiative and the South African facilitation had all reiterated their wish to see the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement implemented, he said he had expressed to the Government the Peacebuilding Commission’s renewed support for measures towards that end. It was also important that donors honour the pledges they had made at the May 2007 roundtable meeting held in Bujumbura.

He said he had met with the First and Second Vice-Presidents of Burundi, the Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation, other ministers, local administration officials, as well as representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, religious communities, the media, the private sector and the diplomatic corps. Specific meetings had also been held with representatives of the regional peace initiative and the ambassadors of the United Republic of Tanzania and South Africa, to discuss how the Peacebuilding Commission could help facilitate the resumption of dialogue between the Government and the Palipehutu-FNL.

A correspondent asked whether FNL was saying it had no confidence in dialogue, and if the United Nations had any role in the mediation.

Mr. Løvald conceded that statements by the FNL leader indicated strong reservations regarding the resumption of dialogue. With no direct part in the mediation, the only role for the United Nations was mustering international support. At the present very critical juncture, it was important to ensure the resumption of talks by the end of the year, in accordance with the African Union schedule. That timetable was not ambitious and could be achieved, given the political will. It was very important for the country to get on with the very important task of fighting poverty and promoting development.

Asked whether he had confidence in the even-handedness of the South African facilitation, he said the international community was fully behind the facilitator’s efforts. Asked by the same correspondent whether he would encourage the Government to speed up the distribution of posts to FNL, he said that was an issue for the Government and FNL, not for the international community. However, the international community strongly encouraged both sides to get together and hold a dialogue towards resolving their outstanding differences.

He told another journalist that the return of refugees, mainly from the United Republic of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was obviously putting additional strain on the Government and exacerbating the situation.

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For information media • not an official record

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