Speech of His Excellency Ambassador Albert Shingiro, Permanent Representative of Burundi to the United Nations at the Meeting of Burundi Configuration of the United Nations Peace building Commission, March 18, 2015
Mr. Chairman and dear colleague,
I would like from the start of my speech, thank you personally and your delegation for convening this important meeting timely.
Let me also acknowledge the presence among us of Mr. Issaka Sunna, Deputy Head of the MENUB especially commend him for his new position even if I had the opportunity to do so on other occasions. Special mention to Mr Cassam Uteem, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General and Head of the MENUB for the key role he played in the inclusive dialogue that preceded the recent signing of the charter of non-violence during the 2015 elections.
I would also like to thank the Peace building Support Office for his assistance it continues to provide the Mission of Burundi and the Presidency of the configuration.
I do know naturally greet my brother and friend Ambassador Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, Chairman of the CENI and thank him for his very interesting briefing on the current situation of the electoral process and next steps.
Finally, I wish to welcome my new colleague Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden and the new President of the Peace Building Commission and especially congratulate him on his new position.
Finally, my thanks go to all members of the configuration for their support to the process of peace building in Burundi since my country is on the agenda of the commission since 9 years ago.
Mr. President, as you know, the political situation is dominated now by the organization of the general elections of 2015. The process is already underway and it is very advanced. The stage of the registration of voters was generally organized smoothly except for some logistical and administrative problems in the distribution of national identity cards, but has already found consensus solutions. This resumption of dialogue between electoral partners suddenly spurred hope to succeed the best elections in Burundi and we believe it. Would not stay to detail, the Chairman of CENI spoke eloquently and at length. Let me just like to thank our partners who have provided financial and material support to this important process. I naturally invite those who have not yet do so to deliver tomorrow because the financial gap still exists.
Regarding the issue of political impact of some trials underway, it is worth to emphasize that the argument that the current actions against some political leaders to justice would be an obstacle on their participation in the electoral race not hold. Burundi Electoral Code has provisions on the causes eligibility and ineligibility for election. Every defendant is still eligible as long as the sentence is not pronounced. Prospective candidates for various elections therefore not have to worry even more that convictions are not yet handed down by the courts and tribunals. They are free to participate if they wish. Current records before justice can not be an excuse to shirk this civic duty. We call upon all Burundian citizens rather including political leaders who were exiled to return home to organize their political parties and prepare for the electoral process because time is short.
On freedom of expression, we are very pleased to inform you that the bill on amendments to the law governing the press in Burundi has been adopted unanimously by Parliament. The government is very satisfied and confident that the climate between the press and the government will improve with the passage of this bill discussed at length.
As you know, several provisions have been the object of criticism and the Constitutional Court ruled some of them unconstitutional. These were modified by the elected representatives. The good news in all this is that the protection of sources is recognized and guaranteed in the new Act. In other words, the journalist is not obliged to reveal the source of information. This questioning of a law already enacted by the Head of State testifies the high degree of independence of the Constitutional Court was seized of the matter.
Regarding the interpretation of the Constitution, the current debate on the interpretation of the Constitution in Articles 96 and 302 on presidential terms is increasing day by day. Here, each political side interprets these 2 items from his way, pulls the string to him and this creates an intense debate two months of the general election. Faced with this contradictory debate, only body competent to interpret the constitution may determine and decide between the two trends clash in that moment. Instead of taking the path of the street or the use of violence for claims of political or social order, all parties should instead respect the decisions of the competent bodies and everyone must respect the competence of the other. In short, Burundi we are faced with the question of the interpretation of the Constitution and not its review and this is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court. This is true in all countries, including those that you represent in New York Excellence Ladies and Gentlemen.
Naturally, in a state of law, the role of interpreting the Constitution does not belong to political parties or civil society or the media, or religious or our partners, but rather to the Court Constitution which is the only competent judicial system to ensure compliance with the constitution.
I also want to reiterate what everyone knows, no text, political or legal can not supplant the Basic Law adopted by referendum. This as you know plays the role of the spine in humans. It must take precedence over any other legal text or political agreement.
We believe that in this time of election fever and it is our wish, Burundi must strengthen the culture of respect for democratically established institutions. The path from the street to find solutions is to discourage and try rather to promote ongoing dialogue among Burundians.
Regarding the possible risks of uprisings, we assure it is the duty of the Government to measure the extent of risk for each situation and to manage them responsibly and sovereign manner.
As regards the political and diplomatic support to the electoral process, beyond the financial and material support remains necessary, we ask our partners a political and diplomatic support of the electoral process.
As I mentioned above, we ask you for example to maintain the call to discourage the use of violence as a means to achieve the policy objectives and instead encourage Burundians to resolve their differences peacefully through means existing legal channels.
We also ask our partners to advise some political parties of the opposition to avoid a boycott of the upcoming elections as was the case in 2010. As you know, the policy of the empty chair does not benefit anyone. Some of them regret their behavior 2010. They must be part of the democratic game because we want a multicolored parliament and a contradictory and lively debate for the sake of our young democracy.
The importance of the regional dimension
As you know, Mr. President, the importance of the regional dimension in peace building is well established, and all the members here will attach great interest. In this regard, I invite our partners outside the continent to seriously consider the positions of the African Union and other regional and sub-regional organizations in their approaches to the electoral process in Burundi. For example, the decision of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) adopted in its 490th meeting held on 5 March 2015 on developments in Burundi states in Article 4, quote “The Council welcomes the steps already taken to the proper conduct of the electoral process, and calls on the Government of Burundi and all other actors, including political parties and civil society, to work together, respecting of law, including the Constitution of Burundi for the successful holding of peaceful, inclusive, free, credible and transparent and the results will be accepted by all in order to strengthen democracy and national reconciliation in their country ” .
Similarly, the Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee of the ICGLR met in Luanda in Angola in its 10th regular meeting March 11, 2015 adopted several decisions on the political situation in Burundi along the same lines as those of the African Union.
The Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee of the ICGLR also welcomes the measures already taken to the proper conduct of the electoral process and calls on the Government of Burundi and all other stakeholders, including political parties and civil society, work together in the rule of law, including the Constitution of Burundi for the successful holding of transparent elections, credible, appeased, free and inclusive in order to strengthen democracy and good governance in their countries.
Also, the President East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the Right Honourable Fred Daniel Kidega during his recent visit to Burundi, expressed his solidarity with the Burundian citizens who are preparing for the elections. He reminded all stakeholders in the electoral process in Burundi that it is vital to stay calm and serene as the elections approach, in accordance with democratic principles and especially in accordance with the Constitution of Burundi. Through these examples, you will have noticed that all regional actors insist on the supremacy of the Constitution of Burundi, fundamental law adopted by referendum on any other political or legal consideration.
Regarding sustainable socio-economic development of Burundi, I would say that Burundi is moving quietly from the post-conflict phase to the long-term development. We would like our partners to focus their support in the strategic sectors of sustainable development and accelerate economic growth. To this end, we look forward to the next conference on financing for Development to be held from 13 to 16 July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
As you know and as any post-conflict country, Burundi must find an alternative to the many unemployed youth and other vulnerable groups such as women and girls. To achieve this, we need the support of our partners in the priority areas of development identified in the PRSP II.
Mr. President, you plan to do another field trip in two weeks in Burundi. During the visit, we expect from you a message of reconciliation and peace, calling not to resort to violence and street protests for answers to questions that may have solutions within existing relevant national bodies.
On political parties to meet, as was the case during the visit of the Security Council, it is extremely important to be inclusive by inviting all political parties in their differences on domestic policy issues in Burundi. All political parties should be invited to sit together and to have a rich and open debate instead of meeting them separately. I recall that during the visit of the Council on March 13, members were treated to a lively, rich and contradictory debate that has enabled the Council to measure political weather that prevails in Burundi through this inclusive approach. It is the same in terms of civil society
Before concluding my remarks Mr. President, we would like to reaffirm the strong commitment of the Government of Burundi and its people to ensure a transparent electoral process, inclusive, peaceful and above all consistent with democratic principles and the laws of our country. Regarding differing interpretations of the Constitution, we recall that the Republic of Burundi is equipped with bodies authorized to decide in such circumstances. In the hierarchy of standards and this is true everywhere, no law, much less a political agreement, with the reserve not yet exercised cannot displace the fundamental law of the country that plays, I repeat the role of the spine on being human.
Thank you Mr. President!