21 December 2006 As the United Nations prepares to withdraw peacekeepers from Burundi following the successful completion of their tasks, the Security Council today called for continued efforts to shore up stability in the country as it consolidates peace.
In a statement to the press read by its president, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, the Council commended the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) and stressed the critical role that the incoming UN Integrated Office (BINUB) will play in fostering long-term peace and stability.
At the same time, the statement noted that despite the progress achieved, “many challenges remain for Burundi” and called on the authorities and all political actors in the country to persevere in their dialogue on achieving stability and national reconciliation.
The parties were urged to promote social harmony, the rule of law and respect for human rights in their country. Council members called on the Burundian authorities “to investigate thoroughly human rights violations and ensure those responsible for such violations are brought to justice.”
The Council reiterated the need for the parties to the 7 September Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement, in particular the Palipehutu-FNL, to carry it out “without further delay.”
Donors and Burundi’s international partners were encouraged to “continue to work with the Burundian authorities to help them address the challenges of peace consolidation in the country.”
The statement followed a closed-door briefing by the Secretary-General’s acting Special Representative, Nureldin Satti.
Like neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi had been ravaged by an ethnic conflict between its Hutu and Tutsi population. Since gaining independence in 1962, the small Central African country had been the victim of violent coups and political instability. The death of some 300,000 people after the first free elections took place in 1993 led to increased international involvement and the establishment of the first UN mission in Burundi three years later.
Initially comprised of some 5,600 uniformed men and women as well as several hundred civilian staff and 120 police officers, ONUB helped disarm and demobilize nearly 22,000 ex-combatants, including more than 3,000 children and about 500 women. Close to 30,000 militia members and an additional 3,000 handicapped army officers have also been disarmed and assisted.