Press Releases

    SG/SM/9351
                                                                                                                     AFR/963
                                                                                                                     9 June 2004

    In Message to Summit of Regional Peace Initiative, Secretary-General Encourages Burundi to Speed Repatriation, Resettlement

    NEW YORK, 8 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Summit Meeting of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi in Dar-es-Salaam on 6 June, delivered by Berhanu Dinka, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi:

    I send my greetings to all participants in the Summit Meeting of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi. You meet just a few days after the peace process entered a new stage with the official transfer of responsibility from the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) to the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB).

    I am deeply grateful to the Heads of State of the Regional Initiative and to the Facilitation Team for their untiring efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to Burundi. I also salute the determination displayed by the African Union in establishing AMIB at a time when conditions were not yet ripe for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission. I sincerely thank South Africa, Ethiopia and Mozambique for providing the contingents for the force, and Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali, Togo and Tunisia for furnishing it with military observers.

    In resolution 1545 (2004), the Security Council entrusted ONUB with a robust and extensive mandate, covering, among other things, military, political, human rights and electoral issues. In discharging that mandate, the United Nations looks forward to working with the Regional Initiative and the Facilitation Team as full partners.

    The establishment of ONUB offers PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Agathon Rwasa a unique opportunity to heed the repeated appeals of the international community to resume peace negotiations with the transitional Government in order to put a definitive end to the war. I therefore call on them to come back to the negotiating table without delay.

    The decisions taken at this Summit will be critical to the future of the peace process. But they will only be effective if the Government and the entire political class of Burundi rise to meet their responsibilities. I believe that the time has come for decisive action on a number of fronts, including on long overdue preparations for elections, post-election power-sharing arrangements, military integration, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the repatriation of refugees and the resettlement of internally displaced persons.

    I therefore encourage the Government of Burundi to speed up repatriation and resettlement, and I urge the political class to work towards the swift adoption of the post-Transition Constitution, the Electoral Code and the Commune Act. This will help pave the way for elections under safe and stable conditions within the time frame provided for in the agreements. Only in this way will a new and democratic order emerge in Burundi, and the promise of the peace process be fully realized for the benefit of its citizens and the entire region.

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