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Ban commends Burundi for strides in carrying out peace pact

2 June 2009 – Burundi has made progress in implementing the 2006 ceasefire pact between the Government and rebels, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said, calling on the small Great Lakes nation to seize the momentum and continue its efforts to improve its human rights situation.

In his latest report to the Security Council on Burundi, Mr. Ban wrote that “significant breakthroughs” have been made since late last year in the peace process, with a Declaration being signed last December between the Government and the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) which he said “[re-energized] the peace process after months of stagnation.”

That agreement called for the start of the group’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, as well as the political integration of its leadership.

“The renunciation by FNL of armed conflict is a significant development which paves the way for its participation in the democratic process,” the Secretary-General wrote in his report.

In April, he welcomed the former armed opposition group’s accreditation in Burundi as a political party on the heels of the separation and formal disarmament of its armed wing.

For his part, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza committed himself in the Declaration to reserving dozens of civil service posts for top FNL members and repeated his pledge to release FNL prisoners.

The Secretary-General’s report noted that “commendable progress” has been made in implementing the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, which ended a brutal four decade-long civil war between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority, and “laying the foundations for holding free, fair and peaceful elections in 2010.”

Given these developments, it underscored that Burundi should press ahead with efforts to improve the human rights situation by fighting impunity and consulting on setting up transitional justice mechanisms.

Mr. Ban pointed to impunity, particularly for sexual and gender-based crimes, as a source of serious concern. Also, between December 2008 and March 2009, five people with albinism were mutilated and killed, bringing the total number of albinos killed since last August to 10. One dozen suspects have been apprehended by authorities in connection with those killings.

Given the challenges Burundi continues to face, the report recommended that the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) remain unchanged and that it should continue to focus on the conclusion of the peace progress and supporting peacebuilding efforts.

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