December 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2009
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AFRICA

Burundi

Expected Council Action
In December the Council is expected to consider the report of the Secretary-General on the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB). Renewal of BINUB’s mandate, which expires on 31 December, is expected.

Key Recent Developments
On 9 June the Council was briefed by the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUB, Youssef Mahmoud, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on BINUB. The report detailed the main advances over the preceding six months and the challenges ahead. Mahmoud said significant progress had been achieved in implementing the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement and in preparing foundations for the 2010 elections, but also noted that the processes of consolidating peace and security remained incomplete.

Adolphe Nahayo, Director of the Department of International Organizations at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Burundi, expressed his government’s appreciation of the recognition made in the Secretary-General’s report about progress being made towards consolidating peace in the country.

Per Orneus from Sweden’s Permanent Mission to UN subsequently made a statement on behalf of the then-chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) country configuration on Burundi, Ambassador Anders Lidèn, on the latter’s visit to the country from 25 to 27 May to assess progress in peacebuilding and to identify key priorities for further engagement by including the elections in 2010. The statement also highlighted the remaining challenges related to the peace process, in particular the completion of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.

Related Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
On 29 June the Permanent Representative of Switzerland, Ambassador Peter Maurer, took over as chair of the Burundi configuration.

On 29 July the Burundi configuration completed its third semi-annual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi. The recommendations to the Burundian government and international partners largely echoed those from the previous semi-annual review and indicated that progress was slow on a number of key peacebuilding tasks (PBC/3/BDI/6). (It said that the government should intensify its efforts to ensuring a conducive environment for credible elections in 2010, enhancing good governance and the fight against corruption. It also called for the strict implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement. It said the PBC and international partners needed to provide required resources to ensure the success of the 2010 elections, support the peace process and security sector reform, and mobilise resources for peacebuilding.)

On 14 October the configuration met to discuss preparations for the 2010 elections, particularly in terms of creating a suitable environment for peaceful free and fair elections, as well as peacebuilding financial contribution mobilisation. High-level Burundian officials joined the meeting via video-link, including the minister for the interior and the president of the National Independent Electoral Commission. A document prepared by the UN Development Programme and the government of Burundi for a project called “Support the Electoral Cycle of Burundi”, requiring a budget of US $43.7 million, was also presented during the meeting.

Ambassador Maurer visited Burundi from 10 to 11 November to review the progress of peacebuilding and follow up on issues raised during the configuration’s October meeting. The visit’s specific objectives were: preparations for the 2010 elections; and preparations of the socioeconomic reintegration strategy for former combatants, as well as returns of IDPs and refugees.

On 23 November Maurer briefed the configuration on his visit and reported on the need to explore the idea of a long-term observation of the electoral process. Burundi’s minister for national solidarity and social integration also spoke via video-link during the meeting about his country’s socioeconomic reintegration strategy.

On 3 September the Secretary-General wrote to the Council on the findings of the electoral needs assessment mission sent to Burundi following a request from President Pierre Nkurunziza (who had sent a letter to the Secretary-General on 25 May requesting UN support for the electoral process). The mission “determined that the existing conditions are globally propitious for the holding of credible elections,” with one main indicator being the existing trust in the National Independent Electoral Commission by the government, the leaders of political parties and the opposition.

The assessment mission recommended:

  • establishing a UN electoral support programme to provide technical expertise in the planning and implementation of various electoral operations; and
  • strengthening the current transportation and air assets of BINUB to allow the mission to provide, if necessary, specific logistical support to the Burundian electoral commission, including transporting polling materials in remote areas.

In early October a splinter group of the National Liberation Forces (Forces nationales de liberation, or FNL), a former Burundian rebel group transformed into a political party, voted to oust Agathon Rwasa from his position as leader of the FNL “for numerous serious mistakes.” They voted to replace him with another person. However, his supporters rejected the action. Rwasa and his supporters subsequently accused the ruling government as being responsible for the action of the dissident FNL group by trying to use it to sow seeds of discord in his party in the lead up to the 2010 national elections.

In response to a request by the Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported on 1 October on the situation of human rights in Burundi. The OHCHR noted that progress made in recent years in the consolidation of peace had brought about conditions which made it possible today to address human rights challenges. However, impunity remained prevalent. Nine years after the Arusha Agreement to end the civil war, transitional justice mechanisms had not yet been established. It observed that the organisation of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2010 would be a major challenge for the government.

Key Issues

The immediate key issue for the Council is whether to renew the mandate of BINUB.

Closely related is the future of BINUB itself. In his last report the Secretary-General endorsed the recommendation of a technical assessment mission to Burundi that BINUB’s mandate remain unchanged through the end of 2009. But he also conveyed his intention to consult the Burundian government and to submit recommendations in his next report to the Council regarding the nature of the UN presence beyond 2009. (At press time there was talk about possibly transferring in January the oversight of BINUB from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to the Department of Political Affairs, in line with the political situation on the ground, especially the gravitation towards consolidating democratic institutions in the country.)

An underlying issue for the Council is how it can best support efforts towards ensuring an appropriate environment for successful presidential, legislative and communal elections in 2010.

Options
Options before the Council include:

  • renewal of the mandate of BINUB, without any change in mandate;
  • renewal of the mandate of BINUB for another year, with changes to its mandate; and
  • seeking the PBC’s advice on the future of the UN presence in Burundi.

Council Dynamics
There is general consensus among Council members on the need for a continued UN presence on the ground for another year, especially with the upcoming elections. Council members are looking forward to the next report of the Secretary-General to inform their decision as to whether to continue BINUB in its present form or amend its mandate to suit the current exigencies.

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.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other Selected Documents

  • S/2009/445 (3 September 2009) was a letter from the Secretary-General to the president of the Council on the findings of the electoral needs assessment mission that visited Burundi.
  • PBC/3/BDI/6 (29 July 2009) were the conclusions of the third semi-annual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • S/PV.6138 (9 June 2009) was a briefing by Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUB on the fifth report of the Secretary-General on BINUB.
  • PBC/3/BDI/3 (6 February 2009) were the conclusions of the second semi-annual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • PBC/3/BDI/2 (4 February 2009) was the second semi-annual 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 30 August 2009: 434 personnel (including 124 international civilians, 240 local civilians, seven military observers, 12 police and 49 UN volunteers)

Duration

January 2007 to present: mandate expires 31 December 2009

Full forecast