Cablegate: Das Swan Urges Dialogue to Resolve Burundi's


DE RUEHJB #0682/01 2680856
P 250856Z SEP 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In meetings with high level government
officials on September 18-19, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
African Affairs James Swan expressed support for Burundi's
transition to a post conflict society while cautioning
officials on pending potential pitfalls. DAS Swan met with
President Pierre Nkurunziza, 1st Vice President Dr. Martin
Nduwimana, 2nd Vice President Gabriel Ntisezarana, and other
political officials to encourage them to end the political
impasse and to resume negotiations with the sole remaining
rebel group, the Palipehutu-FNL (FNL). In discussions with
the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF),
DAS Swan explored possibilities for financial relief to ease
Burundi's current budget shortfall. DAS Swan also thanked
each political leader for Burundi's commitment to deploy two
battalions in support of the African Union's Mission to

2. (SBU) Deputy Assistant Secretary James Swan met with high
level government officials on September 18-19 to offer strong
US support for Burundi as it transitions to a post conflict
society. In consultations with the President, both Vice
Presidents, and other political leaders, DAS Swan praised
Burundi's many successes since the free and fair elections of
2005. However, DAS Swan cautioned that the current political
impasse caused by the refusal of each political party to
compromise prevents essential democratic institutions from
functioning. In order for Burundi to transition out of a
post conflict society, DAS Swan added, the Government of
Burundi (GOB) must lead and be committed to a positive and
constructive dialogue with opposition parties. It is clear
that significant dialogue is already underway. Both National
Assembly President Pie Ntavyohanyumana and Front for
Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) leader Leonce Ngendakumana
confirmed that the National Council for the Defense of
Democracy-Front for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and
FRODEBU have reached agreement to give the government a
working majority when the National Assembly returns October 1
for its fall session.

3. (SBU) DAS Swan also addressed the current challenges posed
by the abrupt withdrawal of the FNL from cease-fire agreement
negotiations. All government officials blamed the FNL for
the sudden cessation of the talks, yet maintained the GOB is
willing to return to the negotiating table. In expressing
frustration with the rebel group, GOB officials remarked that
the FNL has no intention to implement the cease-fire
agreement. DAS Swan acknowledged the difficulty of working
with the rebels, but encouraged the GOB to partner with the
FNL to prevent a return to violence. DAS Swan also
criticized a recent FNL initiative to replace the South
African mediation team, maintaining that a change in
mediation will only serve to prolong negotiations. In an
encouraging signal that regional states remain focused on the
FNL problem, several GOB officials, including Foreign
Minister Antoinette Batumubwira, confirmed that South
African, Tanzanian, and Ugandan officials are meeting in
Tanzania to determine next steps in implementation of the
GOB-FNL accord of September 2006. DAS Swan offered to issue
a statement of US support for maintaining the South African
mediation team if GOB officials felt it would be useful.

4. (SBU) In consultations with both World Bank (WB) and
International Monetary Fund (IMF) representatives, DAS Swan
explored possible solutions to Burundi's current budget
crisis. The IMF defended its position not to review
Burundi's 2008 budget until January, thereby holding up $93
million in budgetary support from the WB and other donors.
(Note: The WB and other donors usually require IMF budget
approval before disbursing funds. End Note) Without that
support, the IMF noted that Burundi would have to cut
government programs across the board and seek out
IMF-facilitated alternative sources of financing. The WB
advised that if the IMF is able to issue some sort of
positive signal after the IMF technical team visit in October
but before the formal review in January 2008, then the WB and
other donors may be able to exercise discretion and disburse
funds. The IMF, however, said flatly that no interim signal
auguring a favorable formal review could be given in advance
of the January 2008 meeting. When meeting with GOB
officials, DAS Swan reinforced the importance of a close
collaboration with the IMF to ensure future budget support
for Burundi. The Ambassador plans to convene a meeting of
senior GOB financial officials and the WB and IMF resident
representatives to encourage them to develop a common
strategy to address the urgent budget gap.

5. (SBU) In meetings will all officials, but especially with
Burundi Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Germain
Niyoyankana, DAS Swan conveyed thanks and respect for the GOB

decision to volunteer troops for the African Union Mission to
Somalia (AMISOM). General Niyoyankana replied that he
appreciated US assistance for the deployment, but lamented
the delay in equipment arrival. DAS Swan assured Niyoyonkana
that everything feasible is being done to ensure DynCorp
expedites delivery of the equipment.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: In his meeting with the President, DAS Swan
heard Nkurunziza tacitly acknowledge that his CNDD-FDD party
and opposition FRODEBU party are close to an agreement to end
the current political stalemate. Ending the political
stalemate will be a positive step for the entire country. It
is, however, worth noting that a FRODEBU - CNDD-FDD alliance
creates a power bloc preponderantly of ethnic Hutus, but one
that reflects the generally accepted percentages within the
country. Absent a census, roughly 15% of the country is
Tutsi; the rest is Hutu. Nonetheless, a FRODEBU - CNDD-FDD
alliance would further exacerbate the plight of the fractured
former ruling Tutsi party, Union for National Progress
(UPRONA), emphasizing UPRONA's lack of power. It will be
important to monitor this development as Burundi's politics
once again risk division along ethnic lines. END COMMENT

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