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The situation in Burundi

(New York, December 04, 2002)

Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia


I would especially like to express that it is an honour for us to meet with Deputy President Zuma, the Facilitator of the peace process in Burundi. I must especially thank him, on behalf of my country, for his briefing and his very valuable information. To him, and through him to the Government of President Mbeki, I would like to acknowledge everything they are doing to contribute to peace in Africa in the chairmanship of the African Union. That contribution is enhanced by the facilitating management of President Nelson Mandela and the agreement reached on a transitional Government.

In the case of Burundi, we share in the satisfaction of other delegations that a ceasefire agreement has been reached between the Government of President Pierre Buyoya and the rebel group of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) led by Mr. Nkurunziza. We feel that an important obstacle to reconciliation among the people of Burundi has been overcome, although we know that there are still many others in the arduous path towards peace.

After two years on the Council and two visits to the country, we have seen first-hand the stamina for peace. We therefore believe that there is considerable room for action by the international community, African countries in particular. There are promises of international assistance for the socio-economic reconstruction of the country. There is the possibility of imposing international sanctions on the National Liberation Forces (FNL). An agreement has been reached establishing an African mission to verify and monitor the ceasefire.

My delegation would like to ask Deputy President Zuma for more detailed information on that African mission, particularly on its composition. Would it be comprised exclusively of African countries, or might it perhaps include personnel from elsewhere? What would be its relationship to a possible United Nations peacekeeping mission? I would also like to hear his opinion on the FNL's attitude towards the ceasefire and about what kind of sanctions might be envisaged, to be imposed by countries members of the Regional Initiative - if that sort of details has been considered.

I now resume my functions as President of the Council.

I now give the floor to Deputy President Jacob Zuma to respond to the observations that have been made and to make any final comments he has.


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