SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, COMMENDS NELSON MANDELA’S ‘UNWAVERING COMMITMENT’ TO RECONCILIATION IN BURUNDI

15 November 2001
SC/7214

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, COMMENDS NELSON MANDELA’S ‘UNWAVERING COMMITMENT’ TO RECONCILIATION IN BURUNDI

15/11/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7214

Security Council

4417th Meeting* (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, COMMENDS NELSON MANDELA’S

‘UNWAVERING COMMITMENT’ TO RECONCILIATION IN BURUNDI

Also Calls for Halt to Hostilities, Support for Transitional Government

While expressing concern about the recent increases in the violence and reiterating calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Burundi, the Security Council this afternoon also commended Madiba Nelson Mandela for his “tenacity and unwavering commitment towards political reconciliation” in that country.

Mr. Mandela -- a former President of South Africa -- is the Facilitator of the Burundi/Arusha Peace Process.

In a statement read out by its President, Keith D. Knight, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, the Council called on all Burundians to reject violence and to pursue their objectives through the institutions and mechanisms of the transition process.  It appealed to all Burundians and Member States to build on the momentum created through the efforts of Mr. Mandela to the Arusha Peace Process and to support the regional peace initiative, as well as the Transitional Government.

The Council also expressed its deep gratitude to Mr. Mandela for his dedicated services to the people of Burundi and the cause of peace in Central Africa.  Building on the work of his predecessor, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mr. Mandela had helped to give Burundi a chance for lasting peace, democracy, economic development and national reconciliation. 

The Council also expressed its appreciation to Mr. Mandela and the South African Government for initiating the deployment of the first elements of the multinational security presence, without which the conditions would not have been conducive for the inauguration of the Transitional Government. 

The meeting, which began at 12:35 p.m., was adjourned at 12:42 p.m.

___________

*     The 4416th meeting was closed.

The full text of the presidential statement (S/PRST/2001/35) is as follows:

“The Security Council expresses its deep gratitude to Madiba Nelson Mandela of South Africa for his dedicated service to the people of Burundi and the cause of peace in Central Africa.  Building on the work of his predecessor, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Madiba has helped to give Burundi a chance for lasting peace, democracy, economic development and national reconciliation.

“The Security Council had in the statement of its President on 8 November 2001, welcomed the 1 November 2001 inauguration of Burundi’s Transitional Government and expressed its appreciation for the instrumental role played by Madiba towards the creation of the Transitional Government.  The Security Council had also expressed the hope that the Region and the International Community could continue to rely on his moral leadership and ingenious spirit that are essential for progress towards peace in Burundi.

“The Security Council acknowledges the sterling contribution of Madiba as Facilitator of the Arusha Peace Process in bringing together all the Parties including the armed groups to engage in dialogue in order to facilitate an early cessation of hostilities in accordance with the Arusha Agreement.  The Security Council commends Madiba for his tenacity and unwavering commitment towards political reconciliation in Burundi.

“The Security Council expresses its appreciation to Madiba and the South African Government for initiating the deployment of the first elements of the multinational security presence tasked with the protection of returning political leaders, without which the conditions would not have been conducive for the inauguration of the Burundi Transitional Government.  These key successes have confirmed the trust and confidence which the Security Council and the international community have always had in Madiba.

“The Security Council expresses its concern about the recent increase in violence and reiterates its call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Burundi.  The Security Council calls on all Burundians to reject violence and to pursue their objectives through the institutions and mechanisms of the transition process.  The Security Council appeals to all Burundians and United Nations Member States to build on the momentum created through the efforts of Madiba and to support the Regional Peace Initiative and the Transitional Government.”

Background

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was designated as Facilitator of the Arusha peace process in December 1999 by a meeting of African heads of State in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.  Intensive diplomatic efforts led by Mr. Mandela resulted in the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, which was signed on 28 August 2000 in Arusha by the parties to the Burundi peace process.  In the months that followed, Mr. Mandela made further efforts to bring the remaining Burundi movements and groups into the agreement.

A regional summit on Burundi was held in Pretoria on 11 October, at which the Government of Burundi and the members of seven opposition parties agreed on

the legal framework for, and the structure of, the Transitional Government, the composition of the cabinet, the senate and the transitional national assembly.  The summit participants called for an impartial multinational presence in Burundi to serve as a confidence-building measure in support of the Arusha peace process, in general, and, in particular, the inauguration of an interim Government of Burundi.  Following an announcement by the Government of South Africa that it would deploy a battalion in Burundi to serve as an interim protection force, until an all-Burundi unit had been trained to take over the responsibility, the Security Council voiced its support for an interim multinational security presence in Burundi.

On 1 November, a power-sharing plan came into effect that allows for a Hutu and Tutsi president to alternate at the helm of the country.  The first term will be for 18 months.  The two main Hutu rebel groups have rejected the Facilitator’s plan and have vowed to continue fighting the Tutsi-dominated army.  The new Government, led by President Pierre Buyoya, was due to meet for the first time on 8 November to begin deciding on practical measures to bring peace.  Those moves were expected to include the creation of a transitional assembly and a proposal for a multi-ethnic army.   Mr. Mandela announced that his task had been completed and that he was passing on his responsibilities to others. 

On 8 November, the Council called on all Burundians to support the Transitional Government and to work together to ensure the broad-based and inclusive Government success in fulfilling its functions.  At the same time, the Council condemned the recent attacks by the Force for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) and the National Liberation Front (FNL) on civilians.  It expressed grave concern that the frequency of such acts had increased and reiterated that the installation of a broad-based government in accordance with an internationally accepted peace process made armed rebellion an unacceptable means of political expression.  It called again for an immediate suspension of hostilities in Burundi and for armed groups to enter into negotiations to reach a definitive ceasefire.

At an earlier meeting, the Council had strongly supported the establishment of an interim multinational security presence in Burundi to protect returning political leaders and train an all-Burundian protection force.  The Council urged the international community, with the installation of the Transitional Government, to provide additional assistance, including by honouring fully the pledges made by donors during the Paris Conference of December 2000.

In 1993, according to the Department of Political Affairs (www.un.org.), a coup attempt resulted in the death of the first democratically elected President, a Hutu, and six ministers.  Fighting between the largely Tutsi army and Hutu rebels followed, causing massive internal displacements of people and threatening to further destabilize the region.  An estimated 200,000 people died in Burundi’s civil war.

Although the United Nations was actively involved in a good offices mission in Burundi, the peace process made little progress and the security and humanitarian situation deteriorated.  Violence escalated, claiming among its victims United Nations humanitarian relief workers.  Despite initiatives by the international community and the Secretary-General, the situation in Burundi

remained tense.  The United Nations welcomed the 1999 appointment of Mr. Mandela as Facilitator and supported his efforts in the peace process. 

The humanitarian suffering which has plagued Burundi since late 1993 has continued.  Hundreds of thousands have died as a direct result of the conflict between the Government and opposition forces.  The number of Burundian refugees has reached 500,000, and is growing.  More than 800,000 people –- 12 per cent of the country’s population -– are internally displaced, many of them as a result of adeliberate Government policy relocating civilians in circumstances where it cannot be justified under international civilian law.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.