June 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 May 2009
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AFRICA

Burundi

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) in June. Resolution 1858, which extended the mandate of BINUB last December, requested that the report to be submitted by May. BINUB’s mandate expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
On 4 December the government and the last remaining major rebel group, Palipehutu-FNL (Parti pour la libération du peuple Hutu-Forces nationales de libération), signed an agreement at the Great Lakes Summit held in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. The government agreed to Palipehutu-FNL’s demand to release political and war prisoners and offered 33 positions to senior Palipehutu-FNL members in the organs of the state. Palipehutu-FNL dropped its longstanding demand that it be recognised as a political party under its existing name. (The inclusion of “Hutu” in a political party’s name would contravene Burundi’s constitutional ban on ethnically based political bodies.) The rebel group also dropped its demand that the Burundian armed forces be disbanded and restructured. It agreed that its combatants would report to assembly areas for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process (DDR), as envisaged by the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement (CCA) that the government signed with Palipehutu-FNL in 2006.

On 9 January the Palipehutu-FNL changed its name to Forces nationales de liberation (FNL). By late January the Burundian government had released some 118 FNL political prisoners and prisoners of war. On 16 March initial disarmament of FNL rebels commenced at an assembly site west of Bujumbura.

On 10 April the FNL released 112 child soldiers. It also indicated that it would release 200 more in the near future. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, welcomed the development and said the FNL’s actions showed that the demobilisation process of children associated with the rebel group had “finally begun.”

On 8 April the Burundian government and the FNL met in Pretoria, under the leadership of the South African facilitator (leading the regional peace initiative on Burundi and comprised of key countries including Burundi, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda). The meeting resulted in a decision to establish a roadmap for the finalisation of the peace process.

The leader of the FNL,Agathon Rwasa, handed over his weaponsto AU troops overseeing the peace processon 18 April.Subsequently, thousands of FNL rebels were physically disarmed by AU troops on 21 April before moving to demobilisation centres. The FNL also registered as a political party that day. The Secretary-General subsequently welcomed this latest development and urged both the government and FNL to adhere to the peace process.

On 8 April Ernest Manirumva, the vice-president of the anticorruption organisation, Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory, was kidnapped from the Ministry of Agriculture where he also worked as a consultant and was later found stabbed to death in his home. The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Akich Okola, expressed concern, as did international human rights groups. They called on the government to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of civil society and human rights, conduct an immediate investigation into the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.

On 11 December the Council was briefed by the Facilitator of the Burundi Peace Process, South African Defence Minister Charles Nqakula. Nqakula discussed developments related to the Great Lakes Summit a week earlier and his peace facilitation work. The Council was also briefed by the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) country-specific configuration on Burundi, Ambassador Anders Lidén of Sweden. Lidén told the Council that Burundi appeared to be on track toward peace consolidation but required continued international support to prevent a relapse into armed conflict. Lidén stressed the need for close collaboration between the Council and the PBC to ensure full implementation of the agreement.

Burundian Ambassador Augustin Nsanze thanked the Secretary-General for contributing towards the success of the 4 December summit. Nsanze agreed with the recommendation in the Secretary-General’s November report to extend BINUB’s mandate and its transfer to the UN Department of Political Affairs to help align the activities of UN agencies in the country.

On 22 December the Council adopted resolution 1858 extending the mandate of BINUB until 31 December 2009. It emphasised the need to maintain international support for peace consolidation and long-term development in Burundi. It also highlighted the importance of the mission’s support for national elections in 2010, transitional justice and the DDR process, in coordination with the government, the UN country team and the PBC. It asked the Secretary-General for a report on BINUB that would include the results of a technical assessment mission in early 2009 and recommendations that could guide the Council in deciding BINUB’s future direction.

Developments in the PBC
On 12 December the Burundi country-specific configuration of the PBC held a meeting with the South African facilitator on developments. The meeting concluded with the adoption of recommendations (PBC/3/BDI/1), including:

  • calling on both the Burundian government and the FNL to urgently implement the outcome of the 4 December Great Lakes Summit in Bujumbura and of the CCA, and stressed the importance of immediate international support in that regard;
  • calling on the international community to urgently extend the necessary support for the preparatory tasks in connection with the DDR process; and
  • urging the FNL to release without further delay all children associated with its forces and take necessary steps to transform itself into a national political party.

On 4 February the second biannual report on the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi (PBC/3/BDI/2) was issued, describing progress made during the July to December 2008 period and the remaining challenges to peacebuilding. On 6 February the Burundi configuration held its second biannual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi and adopted recommendations (PBC/3/BDI/3).

At press time the chairman of the Burundi configuration was on a visit to the country to follow up on the implementation of the priorities of the strategic framework and preparations towards holding presidential elections in 2010.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is how proactive it should be in reinforcing the momentum created by recent positive developments.

Another related issue is whether the Council should take up the future of BINUB in light of recent developments and the upcoming report of the Secretary-General as envisaged by resolution 1858.

An underlying issue is maintaining an effective balance between matters addressed by the Council and those tackled by the PBC in the evolving situation in the country.

Options
Options before the Council include:

  • issuing a statement or resolution welcoming the positive developments in Burundi, including urging the government and the FNL to adhere to the requirements of CCA and encouraging the work of the PBC and other international stakeholders to assist in keeping the peace process on track;
  • pressing for further implementation of its resolutions on child soldiers;
  • addressing the need for security sector reform; and
  • deciding on whether to transform BINUB into an integrated UN mission.

Council Dynamics
Council members are pleased about the recent progress in Burundi, especially in regard to mutual concessions made by the government and the FNL on a more ethnically integrated government and the release of child soldiers by the FNL. However, members also remain cautious at this stage about the sustainability of the process. The Secretary-General’s report with recommendations on next steps in relation to the future direction of BINUB is awaited with interest.

France is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

Underlying Problems
Fundamental challenges persist in security sector reform, human rights and judicial reform, economic constraints, lack of basic social services and resettlement of refugees. Sustaining the peace process and progress towards the 2010 elections remain the overall decisive challenge.
UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1858 (22 December 2008) extended the mandate of BINUB until 31 December 2009.
  • S/RES/1719 (25 October 2006) established BINUB.

Selected Security Council Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/10 (24 April 2008) was the latest statement of the Council on the situation in Burundi.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/745 (28 November 2008) was the latest report on BINUB.

Other Selected Documents

  • PBC/3/BDI/3 (6 February 2009) were the conclusions of the second biannual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • PBC/3/BDI/2 (4 February 2009) was the second biannual report reviewing progress on the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • PBC/3/BDI/1 (16 December 2008) were the conclusions of the Burundi configuration of the PBC.

Other Relevant Facts

Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUB

Youssef Mahmoud (Tunisia )

Size and Composition of Mission

Strength as of 31 March 2009: 434 personnel (including 130 international civilians, 246 local civilians, eight military observers, seven police and 43 UN volunteers)

Duration

January 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2009

Recommended Budget

$33.1 million

Full forecast