Cablegate: Burundi: Peace Building Commission Receives Update
DE RUEHJB #0577/01 2291134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171134Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0492
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000577
DEPT FOR AF/C AND INR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL BY
SUBJECT: BURUNDI: PEACE BUILDING COMMISSION RECEIVES UPDATE
ON FNL AND BUDGET IMPASSE
REF: A. BUJUMBURA 556
B. BUJUMBURA 563
C. BUJUMBURA 564
1. (SBU) Summary. The Peace Building Commission in New York
was briefed on the latest developments in Burundi surrounding
stalled negotiations with the FNL and the budgetary impasse
in Burundi's Parliament via an August 13 video conference.
South African Ambassador Mdu Denis Lembede reported that
Tanzanian President Jacaya Kikwete stated if the FNL did not
soon return unconditionally to negotiations with the GOB they
must leave Tanzania, and Tanzanian Ambassador Francis Mndolwa
called on the international community for assistance.
Opposition parties in the Burundian Parliament who had
refused to participate in legislation, exacerbating the
budget crisis, have agreed in principle to return to the
legislative process, and will vote on new budget proposals.
2. (U) Executive Representative for the Secretary General
(ERSG) in Burundi, Youssef Mahmoud, along with South African
Ambassador Mdu Denis Lembede, German Ambassador Thomas
Mangartz, and IMF representative Israel de la Piedra briefed
the Peace Building Commission (PBC) in New York on August 13.
Via video conference from the UN Integrated Mission in
Burundi's (BINUB) headquarters in Bujumbura, they addressed
the stalled negotiations between the Government of Burundi
(GOB) and the lone remaining rebel group PALIPEHUTU-FNL
(FNL), and the budgetary impasse in Parliament exacerbated by
a stalemate between political parties.
Small Progress with FNL
3. (SBU) South African Ambassador Lembede told the PBC and
the assembled Diplomatic Corps that Tanzanian President
Jacaya Kikwete had delivered this message to the FNL: if the
FNL delegation failed to return to negotiations with the GOB
they must leave Tanzania. Tanzanian Ambassador Francis
Mndolwa interjected at this point, asking why the FNL,s
behavior had remained so "unpredictable." Not waiting for an
answer, Ambassador Mndolwa postulated that the FNL was
supported by "outside" forces, acknowledging that he did not
know their identity. He pointed out that although the FNL,s
accounts in Burundi are frozen, they still have assets in
banks in other countries. Tanzania needed help to address
this source of FNL funding, Ambassador Mndolwa said, and
called on the international community for assistance.
4. (SBU) Ambassador Lembede stated further that in
conversations with the FNL, as recently as the morning of
August 13, they had offered little of substantive value to
advance the cease-fire process. He reported that FNL leader
Agathon Rwasa had increased to $54,000 his request to
facilitate the FNL,s move from Dar Es Salaam, an amount more
than four times originally requested.
5. (SBU) The South African and Tanzanian Ambassador's spoke
with one voice concerning the FNL,s return to negotiations
with the GOB. Ambassador's Lembede and Mndolwa,
respectively, stated authoritatively that the FNL,s return
must be unconditional and soon.
Positive Signs on the Budget Impasse
6. (SBU) German Ambassador Thomas Mangartz briefed the PBC on
the legislative blockage in the Burundian Parliament, noting
particularly the budget impasse (Reftel A) and the "empty
chair" position taken by the political opposition.
Ambassador Mangartz informed the PBC that opposition leaders
in the Parliament had agreed in principle to relent on their
"empty chair" policy, and would vote on new proposals,
hopefully alleviating the legislative stalemate. Taking
advantage of the Constitutional requirement that two-thirds
of Parliament be in attendance for legislation to pass into
law, some opposition parliamentarians had refused to
participate in the legislative process, rendering the
Parliament unable to address the budget crisis.
7. (SBU) IMF country representative for Burundi Israel de la
Piedra reported that the IMF, in its just completed mission
to Burundi (Reftel B), foundQhe country's budget process
complicated by good governance problems. He noted
questionable payments to the private Burundian petroleum
distributor, Interpetrol, amounting to more than one and a
half percent of GDP. (Reftel C) De la Piedra pointed out
that, positively, the Government of Burundi (GOB) is
addressing the potential Interpetrol scandal, saying if the
IMF is satisfied with GOB progress then international donors
will remain engaged.
What Can the PBC Do?
8. (SBU) When asked by the Belgian representative on the PBC
what help the Commission can offer, ERSG Mahmoud emphasized
the need of a fact-finding mission by the PBC. He added that
if the current situation with the FNL and the budget crisis
worsens, the PBC should then take a more active role, but
cautioned against adding "additional voices" at this time.
It is important, he said, that the parties involved not see
BINUB, or the PBC, as taking sides.
9. (SBU) Ambassador Lembede told the PBC that the FNL had no
"particular deadline" to respond to offers put forward by the
GOB. When Egypt's representative on the PBC asked which
international actors should be called upon to assist in
alleviating the GOB,s impasse with FNL, Ambassador Lembede
said that the international community's most important
contribution would be to "speak with one voice" to the FNL.