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Cablegate: World Bank President Wolfowitz Visits Burundi

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DE RUEHJB #0211 0821024
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231024Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0157
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000211

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN EINV ECON EAID BY
SUBJECT: WORLD BANK PRESIDENT WOLFOWITZ VISITS BURUNDI


1. (U) Summary. During a March visit to Burundi, the President of
the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz discussed with Burundian President
Pierre Nkurunziza the World Bank's proposed $130 million
poverty-reduction grant and stressed the need for increased support
to the private sector. Mr. Wolfowitz expressed strong support for
an upcoming donor round table to address poverty in Burundi. In a
meeting with civil society groups, he stressed the importance of
working with government and suggested the creation of a standing
forum which would meet regularly with government officials. End
Summary.


Meets with President Nkurunziza
-------------------------------

2. (U) Alassane Sow, the World Bank's Representative in Burundi,
briefed members of the Diplomatic Corps on World Bank President Paul
Wolfowitz's March 7-9 visit to Burundi, including his meetings with
President Pierre Nkurunziza and other groups. During a March 16
meeting held at the UN Headquarters in Bujumbura, Sow reported that
the two discussed Burundi's Strategic Framework for the Fight
Against Poverty ("Cadre Strategique pour la Lutte contre la
Pauvrete"), and a proposed $130 million World Bank grant that would
address education, infrastructure, and energy needs in Burundi.
Wolfowitz stressed to the President that his message was one of hope
and encouragement, rather than of critisicm and censure. He
stressed that the World Bank would like Burundi to make progress
towards a budget that encourages economic development. To achieve
this goal, Mr. Wolfowitz encouraged Burundi to begin steps toward
lowering defense spending and raising its budget for social needs.
President Nkurunziza stressed his strong commitment to fighting
social inequality, and said that he looked forward to partnering
with the World Bank to ameliorate Burundi's extreme poverty. Mr.
Wolfowitz also assured Burundi's president that the World Bank would
participate in the May donor roundtable to discuss Burundi's urgent
development needs.


Meeting with Civil Society
---------------------------

3. (U) President Wolfowitz suggested that civil society groups
create a standing forum to meet regularly with government officials,
which could serve to lessen tension and forestall potential
misunderstandings between the government and civil society. In his
meetings with civil society and human rights groups, President
Wolfowitz reiterated the necessity of working with the government to
help Burundi continue its progress following the cessation of the
war. In meetings with the Observatory for the Fight Against
Corruption and Economic Embezzlements (OLUCOME) and Ligue Iteka,
Burundi's foremost human rights organization, Wolfowitz declared
that the World Bank was committed to supporting Burundi's private
sector.

5. (U) Comment. Mr. Wolfowitz's visit to Burundi at this time
highlights Burundi's compelling development needs. His
announcement of $130 million in assistance is telling in its
clear-cut focus. The World Bank has identified the three areas -
education, infrastructure, and energy - that press most heavily on
Burundi's poverty. If these cmr issues an be successfully
addressed through donor assistance, Burun`k!wilL je hn !`gwktondQQd6eLx ht`Wv(e`nn-)Q

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