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Cablegate: Burundi Deadlock in Parliament

VZCZCXRO2496
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHJB #0556/01 2181537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061537Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0470
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 0018

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUJUMBURA 000556

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/C AND INR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREF PREL BY
SUBJECT: BURUNDI DEADLOCK IN PARLIAMENT

REF: A. BUJUMBURA 534

B. BUJUMBURA 538
C. BUJUMBURA 543

1. (SBU) Summary. Burundi's Diplomatic Community issued a
press statement July 31 addressing the deadlock in the
Burundian National Assembly, and the deterioration of
negotiations with the FNL, calling on all political actors in
Burundi to place national interests above individual ones.
Speaking on behalf of the diplomatic corps, Tanzanian
Ambassador Francis Mndolwa, Dean of Burundi's Diplomatic
Corps, presented the statement to the media, reminding all
parties that "power is best exercised when bearing in mind
one's responsibilities." At the end of the question and
answer session following the press statement, Ambassador
Mndolwa stated that he did not know the whereabouts of FNL
rebel leader Agathon Rwasa. While assuring that Rwasa was
not in Dar-Es-Salaam, Ambassador Mndolwa opined that
Burundian refugee camps served as good hideouts for the FNL,
and perhaps the FNL would be more easily identified in
Burundi if the camps were shut down. End Summary.

2. (U) Special Representative for the Secretary General
(SRSG) to the UN Integrated Mission in Burundi (BINUB),
Youssef Mahmoud, along with Ambassador Mamadou Bah of the
African Union (AU), and Tanzanian Ambassador Francis Mndolwa
issued to the Burundian media a public statement addressing,
in large part, the current political deadlock in Burundi's
National Assembly. The press statement was presented during
a July 31 press conference held at BINUB headquarters in
Bujumbura. It also addressed the deteriorating condition of
negotiations between the Government of Burundi (GOB) and the
PALIPEHUTU-FNL (FNL) in plans to implement the 2006
Cease-Fire Agreement, following last week's departure of the
FNL delegation from talks in Bujumbura. (Reftels A and B)

3. (U) Directly before Ambassador Mndolwa's presentation of
the statement, SRSG Mahmoud told the assembled media and
diplomatic corps that BINUB's aim through the statement was
to comment on the recent withdrawal of the FNL from
negoiations. He pointed out that the UN played a supporting
role in the peace initiative, led by South Africa, between
the GOB and the FNL. Mr. Mahmoud said that the Secretary
General urged the two parties not to resume hostilities, and
welcomed the assistance of South Africa and the AU in the
negotiations.


Press Statement Calls for Unity
-------------------------------

4. (U) Ambassador Mndolwa, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in
Burundi, read the combined press statement in which he
expressed concern, on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps, over
the political situation in Burundi. He commended Burundi for
its return to democracy after elections in 2005, and called
on the government and the people of Burundi "to continue
implementing the requisites of democracy and the rule of
law." In the statement, Ambassador Mndolwa pointed out the
importance of dialogue between political parties and within
the parliament, and said that national interests must come
before individual gains. He reminded that the Parliament is a
vital necessity for the government to work, and "should not
be bypassed or abused by any party."

5. (U) Through the press statement Mndolwa called upon the
FNL to continue talks aimed at implementing the 2006
Cease-Fire Agreement, saying that Burundians were
best-qualified to solve the problems of Burundi. He closed
the statement by asking all parties to remember that "power
is best exercised when bearing in mind one's
responsibilities."


Question and Answers Generate Some Heat
---------------------------------------

6. (U) In a question and answer session following the press
statement, African Public Radio questioned the role of BINUB
and the AU in breaking the deadlock currently plaguing the
National Assembly. (Reftel C) Mr. Mahmoud pointed out
BINUB's lack of a mandate to intervene in the internal
working of the GOB, and called on the media to assist in
getting out a message endorsing reconciliation. AU
Ambassador Bah singled out the quiet assistance of the
Diplomatic community in searching for solutions to Burundi's
political crisis, but cautioned the media that, "you can
bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink",
stating that "if Burundi won't drink the water, we (the

BUJUMBURA 00000556 002 OF 002


international community) can't make it do so."

7. (SBU) Ambassador Mndolwa's response to the same question
caused a considerable stir. He pointed out that Burundi is
facing hard times, and opined that international assistance
"will not be here forever." He said "Burundi, you waste time
quarreling over trivial matters," asking what benefit did
"powersharing" convey in developing an economy. He chastised
the media, telling it, as Mahmoud had, that it should educate
the people of Burundi about their exigent needs, rather than
"joining other political parties." He continued, claiming
that today developing countries "cannot even control their
own economies" - that they are controlled by outsiders, a
comment which perplexed his listeners. He ended by saying
"I'm African; I can say what these other Ambassadors can not."

8. (SBU) The final question from the media was, bluntly,
"Where are the FNL rebel leaders?" Ambassador Mndolwa took
the lead in answering, and again, said forcefully that he did
not know the whereabouts of FNL leader Agathon Rwasa, but
stated flatly that Rwasa is not in Dar-Es-Salaam. Mndolwa
continued, referring to Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania,
saying that he "would like to kick them all out, but the
international community says no." He called the camps good
hideouts for the FNL, and said that if Tanzania closed them,
perhaps the FNL would be easier to identify in Burundi.

9. (SBU) Comment. The Diplomatic Corps wants to speak with
one voice on the matter of political dissension in Burundi's
parliament and the on-going negotiations between the GOB and
the FNL. Frustrations at the political deadlock in
Parliament and the disappearance of FNL interlocutors was
evident in the response of AU Ambassador Bah and in
Ambassador Mndolwa's exasperated candor. It has been almost
two years since the formation of the government, and a year
since the signing of the cease-fire agreement. It should
come as no surprise if the international community, which
welcomed Burundi's new democracy with patience and
assistance, begins to show its impatience with the lack of
progress. Individually and jointly. members of the
diplomatic community are delivering strong messages urging
responsible leaders to step up their dialogue and find a way
forward. End Comment.
MOLLER

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