The EU has been supporting Burundi in its efforts to entrench democracy since the Arusha Agreements put an end to years of civil war and lay the foundations for a new era. This year’s legislative and presidential elections are a key step in the democratic process of Burundi. Following an invitation, I decided to deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM), led by the Chief Observer David Martin, Member of the European Parliament, in order to contribute to a transparent, peaceful, credible and fair process that would give confidence to the political actors and electorate, and would ensure acceptance of the outcome. To reach that objective, some minimal conditions need to be in place. Unfortunately, the Chief Observer, whose team has been on the ground for more than a month, has reported to me that the election process continues to be seriously marred by restrictions on independent media, excessive use of force against demonstrators, a climate of intimidation for opposition parties and civil society and lack of confidence in the election authorities.
In these circumstances the EU EOM cannot fulfil its role and I have therefore decided, in agreement with the Chief Observer David Martin, to suspend it. All parties should engage in good faith in a dialogue to restore the necessary conditions for democratic elections and, primarily, the government of Burundi should reach out to all domestic stakeholders by restoring confidence through concrete measures. If the necessary political will exits, the dialogue facilitated by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Said Djinnit, can still provide a forum to reach these objectives and meet the expectations of the people of Burundi. I also look forward to the deliberations of the upcoming EAC Summit to which the AU has been invited to participate.
The EU remains strongly engaged and committed to supporting the democratic development of Burundi in cooperation with regional partners, and I stand ready to swiftly re-start the EOM should acceptable conditions for the conduct of democratic elections be agreed by domestic stakeholders.
The Leadership of the Teachers’ Union Countrywide unanimously resolved to enter into an industrial action effective 14th May 2015, due to Government’s failure to pay the 10% salary increment for teachers in FY 2015/16 as had been committed in 2011. The industrial action has been on for the past 13 days.
As concerned stakeholders in education, we have been taking lead in negotiations so that the issue at hand is sorted out within the shortest time possible to allow the learners resume normal studies.
In the negotiation meetings chaired by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister and the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and attended by several ministers held on 18th and 21st May respectively, no tangible proposals were put forth.
Until yesterday, 25th of May, Government had been adamant in making any formal commitment as regards the 10% salary increment for teachers despite the Union’s efforts in providing practical and viable options/ sources for the increment.
In yesterday’s meeting with the top leadership of the Union, Government made the following commitments;
• 15% salary increment in FY 2016/17
• Teachers SACCO funds to be immediately released to the Apex body of the Teachers’ SACCOs
• No intimidation/ victimization/ harassment of teachers for having participated in the industrial action
• A joint committee comprising Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and UNATU be constituted to identify and advise Government on measures to improve the quality of education.
UNATU being a democratic and member-driven union had to subject the above proposals with the entire teacher leadership countrywide for discussion and resolution at a meeting held on 26th May 2015. Government’s position was presented by Hon. Jim Muhwezi, the Minister of Information and National Guidance. Hon. David Bahati, the Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development was also in attendance.
After a thorough discussion of Government’s proposals, the teacher leaders have resolved to SUSPEND the industrial action on condition that;
i. Government does not breach the implementation of the above commitments within the stipulated time.
ii. No salary increments are effected in FY 2015/16 including the proposed 40% allowance increment for Members’ of Parliament because Government maintains that it has no funds for wage increments.
iii. Government fulfills its commitment of immediately releasing the Teacher SACCO funds to the Apex body of the Teachers’ SACCOs
iv. District officials desist from any form of intimidation, victimization and harassment of teachers in regard to the industrial action
It was further resolved that should government fail to honor their commitment or fail to meet the above conditions, this time round, the Industrial action will resume indefinitely.
Message to the Teachers
UNATU congratulates teachers for the spirited struggle and thanks different support teams upon the successes registered in this industrial action.
The Union hereby clarifies that the Industrial action is not off, but only SUSPENDED to allow Government time to fulfill her commitments. UNATU will continue to monitor the progress of these commitments and by the 30th of September, we expect Government to have included the 15% salary increment in the budget call circular and fully released the said SACCO funds
We therefore call upon all teachers to return to school and resume teaching with effect from Wednesday, 27th May 2015 at 8:00am.
Please note that the industrial action is fully protected by the existing laws and hence no teacher should be intimidated or be subjected to any form of harassment as a result of having participated in the industrial action. Individual teachers and other leaders should report such cases immediately for redress.
“Because we are, the Nation is”
General Secretary – James Tweheyo
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders condemns the murder of opposition figure Zedi Feruzi and his bodyguard. He also condemns the attack on the central market of Bujumbura that killed two and injured many people. He extends his condolences to the family and friends of the victims.
Belgium calls for an impartial investigation, under UN monitoring, in order to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Didier Reynders calls on all actors to show restraint to refrain from using violence. It is also essential that all stakeholders commit to creating swiftly the conditions required to organise peaceful, inclusive and transparent elections, in the spirit of the Arusha Agreements. Didier Reynders therefore encourages Burundian stakeholders to pursue the consultative political dialogue facilitated by his Special Envoy Said Djinnit and representatives of the African Union, the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL).