2 October 2017

Burundi: Geneva - Battle Over Resolutions

analysis

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution of the African group, more favorable to Bujumbura than that of the European Union. The latter expresses its great disappointment.

It was a dramatic turn of events in Geneva on Wednesday, September 28. Everything had, however, started with the European Union which intended to issue a resolution which reiterates the allegations contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Burundi. It mentions crimes against humanity. The ICC is called on to initiate investigations. The EU draft resolution also calls for the renewal of the mandate of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Burundi.

Until then, the procedure has followed its normal course and the Human Rights Council believes that it will rely on this sole resolution to rule on the case of Burundi.

However, the African group is not to count on. Before 24 hours of the decision of the Human Rights Council, the former issued another resolution by magic. The group led by Tunisia convened its own meeting on Wednesday and unveiled this resolution. It congratulates Burundi on having engaged in dialogue and agreed to cooperate with the United Nations. It says nothing about the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry.

Disappointed, the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Great Britain and the United States refused to comment on this last-minute African resolution. The European delegation was confused by the turn of the African group in general and that of Burundi in particular. "Instead of sending us your comments, you have tabled an opposite text."

Bujumbura speaks of obstinacy

After ministers and ambassadors, President Pierre Nkurunziza also intervened. He took advantage of the opening of the new judicial year on 22 September to say that another plot targeted the judiciary. According to the president, this conspiracy aims to challenge the achievements of the independence and sovereignty of the Burundian people. He said it all began with colonization and nearly recurred in 2015 with the coup "when the sovereignty of the people was almost swept away by some foreigners in order to place their puppets in power." They subsequently attacked the army, police, and national intelligence service, seeking to divide them but to no avail.

Now comes the turn of justice. However, it is without counting on "God who made it possible for us to win all these battles and who will make it possible to reach the end of this fight," said Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi justice is criticized in the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Burundi which reveals that crimes against humanity are committed in the country under the complicit silence of justice. Criminals are still free. The chairman of the commission asks the International Criminal Court to initiate investigations. The Council will have to rule.

Bujumbura did not stand idle. On the other side of the Atlantic was the session of the United Nations General Assembly, from 12 to 29 September. The Burundian delegation, headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has increased meetings just to rally more nations to the cause of Burundi. The Foreign Affairs Minister accused the EU of taking unilateral sanctions against his country just to bring its economy down. Minister Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe deplored the fact that some UN members have got used to obtaining resolutions from the Human Rights Council and other mechanisms established by the latter to undermine some States. "The recent report of the Commission of Inquiry into Burundi is a final demonstration of manipulation."

At the time of writing, the draft resolution on Burundi presented by the African Group was adopted with 23 votes in favor, 14 against and 9 abstentions. It provides for the dispatch of three experts to Burundi. The European Union speaks of great disappointment. In a way, it is a victory of the Burundian government.

Reactions

Domitien Ndayizeye: "The government's responsibility is irrefutable."

The former President of the Republic assures that the existence of the crisis in Burundi cannot be denied. According to Domitien Ndayizeye, the responsibility of the government is irrefutable as it is in charge of the management of the country. He does not think that the European Union is against Bujumbura. For him, the international community has an interest in cooperating with the Burundian government. "There is a necessity for Burundi government to accept it."

Cndd-Fdd: "No effect."

Nancy Ninette Mutoni, Communication and Information Officer of the ruling party, said the EU goes on with its "futile attempts to weaken the institutions stemming from the will of God and the people. For Cndd-Fdd, it is a mere obstinacy, like all the maneuverings already orchestrated against the heroic Burundian people, but which will have no effect.

Agathon Rwasa: "Let's stop speculating, there is a crisis."

This political actor says Bujumbura must stop shirking and speculating. It must acknowledge that there is a crisis.

"We live in a country where investigations into crimes never end." According to the First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, there must be an introspection on the part of Burundians in the interest of the nation upon which "the socio-economic tranquility of the population depends."

Sylvestre Ntibantunganya: "Necessity for the easing of tensions... "

The former President of Burundi says Bujumbura and the European Union must be flexible in this period of crisis.

There is a need for an easing of tensions and relaxation to get Burundi out of this impasse. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya calls for the respect of the rights and freedoms of all citizens which are enshrined in the Constitution.

Written by Agnès Ndirubusa and translated by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana

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