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Cablegate: Security Council Lauds Burundi's Progress, Calls


DE RUCNDT #1155/01 3572147
P 232147Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. In a December 10 Security Council
briefing on the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi
(BINUB), Executive Representative and BINUB head Mahmoud gave
a positive account of the status of both the peace process
and electoral preparations, and underscored that BINUB will
continue to support the Government of Burundi (GOB) in
meeting the remaining challenges that afflict countries
emerging from conflict. Ambassador Maurer, Chair of the
Country-Specific Meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission
(PBC) echoed these comments, while noting that curbing
political violence, encouraging political dialogue and
increasing international support are all key to further
progress. Burundi Minister of External Relations and
International Cooperation Nsanze rejected the report's
criticisms, calling BINUB biased against the ruling party and
threatened to ask for a replacement of UN representatives on
the ground. In closed consultations following the briefing,
all Council members supported renewing BINUB's mandate for
another year, although questions were raised about its
reconfiguration after the 2010 elections. All members were
encouraged by Burundi's progress, yet urged peaceful 2010
elections, strengthening of the judiciary, greater political
dialogue, enhanced freedom of expression, as well as
development of youth economic opportunities, particularly for
ex-combatants. End Summary

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2. (SBU) In a December 10 briefing to the Security Council
on the Sixth Report of the Secretary- General on BINUB,
Executive Representative for Burundi and Head of BINUB
Youssef Mahmoud stated that "Burundi is making commendable
progress despite the remaining challenges that afflict
countries emerging from conflict." Mahmoud listed several
recent positive developments including the decision of the
South-African run Partnership for Peace in Burundi (PPB) to
end its mandate in December and entrust the protection of FNL
leaders to a joint Government of Burundi (GOB)-FNL unit.
Another positive step is the GOB's strategy to reintegrate
former members of armed groups. Mahmoud characterized the
GOB's electoral preparations as positive, yet noted that
monetary pledges made by international partners to support
the electoral process have not been dispersed, and three
million U.S. dollars is urgently needed by the end of the
year. He said that BINUB is currently exploring the
possibility of regional and sub-regional organizations
sending long term election observers to Burundi, per the
request of Prsident Nkurunziza. Regarding the intimidating
activities of youth groups associated with the ruling party,
Mahmoud stated that last month the GOB made two statements,
urging political leaders to put an end to these practices.
Mahmoud concluded by emphasizing the critical role of
socio-economic development in peace consolidation and called
on development partners to help Burundi meet its anti-poverty

3. (SBU) Ambassador Peter Maurer, Chair of the
Country-Specific Meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission
(PBC) on Burundi, echoed Mahmoud's positive analysis of the
situation in Burundi, noting optimism about the "lively
political debate" and willingness of all parties to "resist
the temptation of petty politicking." Maurer called the 2010
elections a test of the progress achieved, stating that peace
process sustainability will be reinforced if elections are
free, fair and peaceful, but will be jeopardized by election
failure. Mahmoud stated that a widespread fear of violence,
stemming from a multitude of small arms and intimidation by
youth groups, was an ongoing challenge and that election
safety should be closely monitored. Encouraging meaningful
dialogue between the GOB and the opposition was also pointed
to as an ongoing challenge. Maurer also highlighted three
areas in which the international community can help -
financial support for holding elections, providing long-term
election observers and investment in long-term economic
development. Maurer suggested a regular exchange of views
between the Security Council and the PBC in the coming

4. (SBU) Although Burundi Minister of External Relations
and International Cooperation Augustin Nsanze first welcomed
the Secretary-General's recognition of the progress made
towards sustainable peace, he took issue with a number of
topics in the report. Nsanze lamented the report's
characterization of Burundi's security situation, stating
that it was no worse than in other countries, and explained
that violence was already being addressed via the GOB's
civilian disarmament programs. On allegations of
intimidation by political youth groups, Nsanze stated that
youth groups should not be required to disband since this
behavior is officially prohibited. Addressing freedom of
speech and assembly, Nsanze stated that the "few
restrictions" that may have occurred can be explained by

misunderstandings or misinterpretation of law. Nsanze called
for the future BINUB's mandate to be limited to electoral
assistance, democracy-building, peacebuilding and building
gender awareness in public programs. Nsanze insisted that
BINUB has not respected the "principal of equity" on the
ground and has "wanted to incriminate the ruling party." He
ended by threatening to ask for the replacement of UN
representatives in Burundi if reporting remains unbalanced
and incomplete.

5. (SBU) During private consultations following the public
session of the Council, BINUB Head Mahmoud addressed Nsanze's
criticisms, stating that he has, "always endeavored to show
extra attention to the party in power and even make
exceptions that I would normally not make." Mahmoud stated
he is willing to continue the dialogue with the GOB and
listen to any specific allegations of inequities. Mahmoud
explained that the benchmarks outlined in the August, 2006
Secretary-General report guided BINUB's progress evaluation,
and offered ideas for BINUB's reconfiguration after the 2010
elections. Mahmoud sees BINUB evolving into a small
political mission with a resident coordinator at the
appropriate level. This mission would focus on general
issues and projects, such as ethics training for the national
army. Mahmoud ended by stating that potential investors
should help the GOB fight the poverty epidemic now, rather
than waiting for Burundi's justice system to be perfect.

6. (SBU) Minister Polcouns expressed U.S. support for BINUB
and the PBC's ongoing disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration efforts, emphasized the importance of free and
fair 2010 elections and urged the monitoring of the right of
lawful assembly for opposition parties. He stressed U.S.
support for the PBC and integrated approach of the UN system,
as well as support for the BINUB mandate renewal. (NOTE:
BINUB's mandate is expected to be renewed by December 17. END

7. (SBU) All delegations praised BINUB's efforts and called
for its mandate to be renewed for another year, although
several delegations, including Uganda and Russia, asked how
the mandate could be altered to take into account the
improved situation on the ground. The United Kingdom called
for the UN to use BINUB as a model for UN missions in other
countries, such as Guinea-Bissau. Delegations unanimously
welcomed the strides made in the peace process, welcomed the
work of the PBC and the Partnership for Peace and noted the
importance of the 2010 elections as a litmus test of
Burundi's stability. Russia called the pre-election campaign
"feisty" and called for the Council to closely track the
phases of the electoral process. Freedom of speech and
peaceful assembly were also raised by most delegations,
including France, Mexico, and Austria. Reintegration of
ex-combatants was also mentioned as an important goal by
most. Mexico, as Chair of the Children and Armed Conflict
Working Group, specifically called for the strengthening of
reintegration programs for children and families.

8. (SBU) Austria commended BINUB for its active promotion
of UNSCR 1325, in particular by strengthening the role of
women in the political process, including regionally. China
noted the food shortages currently facing Burundi's regions
and asked the international community to provide assistance
for agricultural and social development. Costa Rica and
Libya also focused on socio-economic reintegration as a key
element of Burundi's continuing stability. Libya stated that
the GOB should "spare no efforts" to address youth employment
and anti-poverty programs, noting the relationship between
rebel movements and lack of opportunities for youth.

9. (U) At the close of consultations, the Burkina Faso, as
President of the Security Council, spoke to the press on
behalf of the Council. He welcomed the political and
electoral progress in Burundi, South Africa's facilitation
efforts, the Regional Initiative for peace, as well as work
done by the African Union and the Partnership for Peace in
Burundi, and noted that Council members were encouraged by
the consensus reached by the political actors on the central
electoral issues. He also called on the Burundian parties to
take appropriate measures for peaceful, free and fair
elections in 2010, stressing the need for the international
community to support elections preparation, the reintegration
process, socio-economic recovery, and returns of internal
displaced persons and refugees. Finally, he supported the
recommendation of the Secretary-General to renew the BINUB
mandate for one year.

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