May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
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AFRICA

Burundi

Expected Council Action
In May, the head of BINUB, Charles Petrie, will brief the Council. Municipal elections are scheduled for 21 May, presidential elections for 28 June, legislative elections for 23 July, senatorial elections for 28 July and collines (Burundi’s smallest administrative units) on 7 September. No formal Council action is expected. The mandate of BINUB expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments
On 10 December 2009 the then-head of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), Youssef Mahmoud, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the country. Mahmoud noted that, given some improvements on the ground, the AU Special Task Force responsible for protecting some leaders of the National Liberation Forces (or FNL, a former rebel-group-turned political party) would be leaving. He said an immediate challenge was funding for the Burundi electoral process leading up to polls planned for 2010. At the government’s request, BINUB was exploring with regional organisations within and outside Africa the possibility of sending observers to Burundi to monitor the electoral process.

Burundi’s foreign minister, Augustin Nsanze, welcomed the report’s recognition of progress but expressed displeasure with some aspects of the report, including assertions of lapses regarding the rule of law and violent activities by the youth wing of the ruling party, hinting also at its growing problems with Mahmoud.

On 17 December the Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of BINUB until 31 December 2010. The Council also:

  • requested BINUB to provide support to the Independent National Electoral Commission at crucial phases of the electoral process as appropriate;
  • encouraged the Burundian government, the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), and its national and international partners to honour the commitments they had made under the country’s Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding;
  • called on the government to pursue its efforts to broaden respect for and protection of human rights by, among other things, establishing a credible national independent human rights commission; and
  • encouraged the Burundian government, in collaboration with all international partners to complete the disarmament and demobilisation process and the strategy for the sustainable socioeconomic reintegration of demobilised soldiers, former combatants, returning refugees, the displaced and other vulnerable groups affected by the conflict.

On 24 December 2009 the Government of Burundi asked the Secretary-General to recall Mahmoud.

On 15 January, following unsuccessful attempts by the Secretary-General to convince the government to reconsider its request, the Secretariat briefed Council members in consultations. Many Council members (including the US and the UK) reportedly expressed concern about the request and the pattern of similar removals of the Secretary-General’s two previous representatives in that country. Most Council members seemed unconvinced by the government’s stated reason for the request.

In subsequent remarks to the press, the president of the Council:

  • commended the outgoing representative of the Secretary-General;
  • noted the important work of BINUB in support of the electoral process; and
  • stressed “the importance of the need for cooperation between Burundi and the new Executive Representative of the Secretary-General to be appointed.”

On 25 March Charles Petrie was appointed as the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUB.

In April a number of violent clashes occurred between mainly youth groups belonging to various Burundian political parties including the ruling party, National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and the opposition FNL. A particularly serious outbreak took place on 14 April in the Kinama neighbourhood of Bujumbura. International human rights groups like Human Rights Watch have pointed out that in most cases the security forces did not carry out thorough investigations and no one has been held accountable.

Developments in the PBC

The chair of the PBC country-specific configuration on Burundi, Ambassador Peter Maurer of Switzerland, addressed the Council during the 10 December 2009 meeting saying that the parties in Burundi were determined to complete the peace process, despite the challenges. Because the elections would be a test of the sustainability of the peace process, he said it was crucial to create an environment conducive to free, fair and peaceful elections. He indicated that the international community could assist by providing adequate funding for the elections, supporting long-term electoral observation and investing in economic development.

Ambassador Maurer led a delegation of the PBC’s country-specific configuration to Burundi from 24 to 28 February to follow up on preparations for elections with key stakeholders and the implementation of the national socioeconomic reintegration strategy, and to explore opportunities for the long-term engagement of the PBC in the country. The delegation also participated in the fourth national review of the strategic framework for peacebuilding in Burundi.

On 24 March the Burundi configuration of the PBC adopted its conclusions on the fourth semi-annual review of the implementation of the strategic framework for peacebuilding in Burundi.

Key Issue
The key issue for the Council is how best to ensure that the security situation does not unravel during the series of elections scheduled for this year. There are 44 parties, including ten main parties. The acceptance of the results at each stage of the five different elections seems crucial. The 21 May municipal elections could prove quite pivotal, especially since they are expected to give an indication of the support for the key political parties.

Underlying Problems
Major problems stem from lack of real progress in security sector reform, reintegration of former combatants and delays in human rights and judicial reform. Economic factors (including a high youth unemployment rate) and a lack of basic social services and resettlement of refugees provide a fertile atmosphere for a return to ethnic tensions of the past.

Options
Possible options for the Council include:

  • a statement identifying the watershed situation facing Burundi over the coming months and the serious risks of divisive rhetoric and violence and urging all stakeholders to keep the elections process on track; and
  • a decision to enhance engagement with the peacebuilding machinery over the next six months inviting PBC representatives to participate in monthly informal interactive dialogues convened for the purpose of seeking the PBC’s input on the situation in the country.

Council Dynamics
Council members agree that a successful election process to ensure peace is essential to stability. They consider BINUB’s role to be vital in the lead-up to the elections, hence their request in the Council’s recent resolution, in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendation in his last report, for “BINUB to be prepared to provide, within its existing resources and if required, logistical support to the Independent National Electoral Commission at crucial phases of the electoral process.”

Most Council members seem to have thought that Burundi’s demand to replace Mahmoud was inappropriate. However, the appointment of a new head of BINUB has enabled the mission’s continued engagement in the peace process at this vital time.

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

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1902 (17 December 2009) extended the mandate of BINUB until 31 December 2010.
  • 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

  • PBC/4/BDI/L.1 (24 March 2010) were the conclusions of the fourth semi-annual review of the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in Burundi.
  • S/2010/156 (23 March 2010) and S/2010/157 (25 March 2010) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the Council regarding the appointment of Charles Petrie as the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUB.
  • S/PV.6236 (10 December 2009) was a briefing by the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of BINUB on the sixth report of the Secretary-General on BINUB.
  • 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.

Other Relevant Facts

Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUB

Charles Petrie (UK/France)

Size and Composition of Mission

Strength as of March 2010: 424 personnel (including 119 international civilians, 243 local civilians, five military observers, 10 police and 47 UN volunteers)

Duration

January 2007 to present: mandate expires 31 December 2010

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