EAC dismisses UN report on Burundi

Saturday April 8 2017

Burundian police patrol the streets of Bujumbura. The force has been accused of using excessive force against opposition figures. AFP PHOTO

Burundian police patrol the streets of Bujumbura. A report presented to the United Nations Security Council expresses concern about the worsening human-rights situation in the country. AFP PHOTO 

By MOSES HAVYARIMANA

EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko has dismissed the report on Burundi presented by special advisor to the UN Secretary-General Jamal Benomar.

Last month, Mr Benomar presented a report to the United Nations Security Council on the current political situation in Burundi, and expressed concern about the worsening human-rights situation in the country.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had documented allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances, as well as cases of torture and ill-treatment.

The report said that there had been more than 210 cases of enforced disappearances between October 2016 and January 2017.  Many lived in fear of the Imbonerakure, the ruling party’s youth militia.

The report indicated that there had been no significant progress in the dialogue led by the EAC, recalling that the government had boycotted the last round of talks in Arusha, and that the two sides had yet to sit at the same table. 

The report also cited Burundi’s refusal to allow deployment of the UN police component, enhanced human rights monitoring, strengthening of the Office of the Special Adviser, or co-operation with African Union observers.

Controversial third-term
More than 500 people have been killed since 2015 when protests erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza vied for a controversial third term in office; the opposition said that he was violating the country’s Constitution and the Arusha Agreement that had helped to restore peace in the country.

“We live here and we continue to preach to the world that we live in a very safe environment… we do not feel insecure. Of course, there are challenges; there are political challenges, there are economic challemges, but which state in the world doesn’t have these sort of challenges,” Muita Muburi the executive secretary of the ICGLR told The EastAfrican.

Mr Benomar said that the UN would continue to support the facilitator of the East African led dialogue, but Mr Mfumukeko said that the joint technical team is yet to be put in place.

“We have actually attempted to come to a formal agreement at this stage. We have drafts of terms of reference, but we don’t have any MoU finalised,” said Mr Mfumukeko.

He added that the secretariat is yet to have a financing agreement with the UN.

Supplementary budget support for the regional-led intra-Burundi dialogue was approved at the 17th extraordinary Heads of States Summit of the EAC, though some countries like China had already provided financial support to the process.

Since the regional mediated dialogue kicked off two years ago, uncertainty has remained as to when the mediation will come to a conclusion.