UN Peacebuilding Commission Work Welcomed
Burundi And Sierra Leone Welcome Work Of UN Peacebuilding Commission
New York, Sep 21 2006 10:00PM
Burundi and Sierra Leone, the two countries chosen by the United Nations’ nascent Peacebuilding Commission for its first activities, today outlined to the General Assembly their advances so far and the challenges ahead as they try to emerge from years of civil conflict.
Addressing the Assembly’s annual debate, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza and Sierra Leone’s Vice-President Solomon Berewa emphasized that the Commission’s selection of their countries was acting as a powerful incentive to internal progress.
Mr. Nkurunziza said Burundi had already made important gains, most notably the ceasefire deal signed earlier this month by the Government and the last key rebel group, the Palipehutu-Forces Nationale du Libération (FNL).
He said the return of numerous weapons by ex-combatants, the growing diversification and freedom of the press and a 20 per cent surge each month in the revenue received by the State were also healthy signs of Burundi’s progress.
But the Burundian leader warned that countries with a recent history of violence and anti-democratic practices must be vigilant that they do not slip back into crises.
Mr. Nkurunziza called on the Peacebuilding Commission and the rest of the UN system to make gender equality a priority, saying his Government regarded it as crucial to alleviating poverty.
Speaking later, Mr. Berewa said Sierra Leone has developed strategy papers to deal with poverty reduction and peace consolidation as it heads towards presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.
He said those strategies depend on support from donor agencies and friendly countries and the country was therefore looking forward to the contribution that the Peacebuilding Commission could make.
Mr. Berewa also thanked the UN for not leaving Sierra Leone in a vacuum when its peacekeeping mission closed down at the end of last year, but instead providing support through the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL).
The Peacebuilding Commission, which is designed to help post-conflict nations avert a relapse into bloodshed, selected Burundi and Sierra Leone at its inaugural meeting, held in June.