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Burundian UN Security Council Resolution 2279; a good deed, but will it make a difference?

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As the unrest and crisis in Burundi continues even if they have Peacekeepers in Central African Republic and Somalia. The Opposition and the Government still keeps on with killings and oppressive behavior from the Government Armed Forces from the Police and the Army. The Opposition even tries to do plots to take down people of higher rankings as they have even attacked and gone after ministers and army generals. That is why the United Nation Security Council on the 1st of April 2016 finally have come to resolution on the conflict as the Inclusive Inter-Burundian Dialogue that have been stalled after the Ugandan President Museveni was out of the picture. There since been little or no-talks between the powerful actors in the country.

burundi-protests

Even with stories of counter-insurgencies from Rwanda and trained militias to topple the President Nkurunziza shows the viability and how the positions are played at the moment. But here are the most specific and most important parts of the UN resolution 2279 (2016) of the Security Council:

“Stressing the primary responsibility of the Government of Burundi for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its population with respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, as applicable” (…)”Urges the Government of Burundi and all parties to reject any kind of violence and condemn any public statement inciting violence or hatred and demands that all sides in Burundi refrain from any action that would threaten peace and stability in the country” (…)”Urges the Government of Burundi to respect, protect and guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in line with the country’s international obligations, to adhere to the rule of law, to bring to justice and hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law or violations and abuses of human rights, as applicable, including sexual violence and violations against children” (…)”Welcomes the steps made by the Government of Burundi to withdraw some media bans, cancel some arrest warrants and release a significant number of detainees, and urges the Government of Burundi to urgently fulfil the remaining commitments announced by the Government of Burundi on 23 February 2016 and to extend such measures to other media outlets and political detainees” (…)”Welcomes the consent of the Burundian authorities to increase to 200 the number of human rights observers (100) and military experts (100) of the AU, calls for their full and speedy deployment in Burundi, notes that 30 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed so far, and urges the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to provide them with full cooperation in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate” (…)”Calls on States in the region to contribute to a solution to the crisis in Burundi, and to refrain from supporting the activities of armed movements in any way, and recalls in this regard commitments of the States in the region under the Framework Agreement on the Peace, Security and Cooperation for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region and the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees” (UN Resolution 2279, 2016).

Most of this is expected from the United Nation Security Council and their values and the wishes of security of the people of Burundi; which is the reason for why the resolution occurs. The issue I have with it, is not that the Resolution finally get Blue-Helmets on the ground and they are supposed to help to gain peace. But when you see the amount of people, experts and military men from the Peacekeepers it is very little. As little as it seems to be a gimmick and then the world society “we did something” but initially that something was very little.

policiers-burundi

And the Burundian Government will sure make sure their mandate is minor or small so they can conduct their affairs as much as they please only to formally do the implementation that are into the standards of the signed statues and the agreements done to international laws. So they don’t have grievances with anybody or anyone from the United Nation or the International donors to the Burundian Regime.

That the UN Peacekeepers will have the total of 100 Military Experts as Peacekeepers, that is a tiny base; they will not have the mandate or structure to do much in Burundi. It is more than the 15 Military Experts that are there now, so it is as adjustment. The Human Rights Monitoring will not be able to force anything, but to report to the UN and AU on the matters and issues on the ground. For me what is important is to remember the dire state that was in Rwanda before 1994. As this is similar and also had a Peacekeeping mission. But looking at the similarities when coming to the mission; the Burundian Peacekeepers can’t do much about nothing.

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Important dates and issues with Rwandan Peacekeeping Mission:

“On 22 June 1993, the Security Council, by its resolution 846 (1993), authorized the establishment of UNOMUR on the Uganda side of the common border, for an initial period of six months, subject to review every six months. The Council decided that the verification would focus primarily on transit or transport, by roads or tracks which could accommodate vehicles, of lethal weapons and ammunition across the border, as well as any other material which could be of military use” (…)”As requested by resolution 846 (1993), the United Nations undertook consultations with the Government of Uganda with a view to concluding a status of mission agreement for UNOMUR. The agreement was finalized and entered into force on 16 August 1993. This opened the way to deployment of an advance party which arrived in the mission area on 18 August. UNOMUR established its headquarters in Kabale, Uganda, about 20 kilometres north of the border with Rwanda. By the end of September 1993, the Mission had reached its authorized strength of 81 military observers and was fully operational” (…)”. Reporting to the Security Council on 15 December 1993 on the activities of the Mission, the Secretary-General noted that UNOMUR was “a factor of stability in the area and that it was playing a useful role as a confidence-building mechanism”. Upon his recommendation, the Council, by its resolution 891 (1993) of 20 December 1993, extended UNOMUR’s mandate by six months. The Council expressed its appreciation to the Government of Uganda for its cooperation and support for UNOMUR and also underlined the importance of a cooperative attitude on the part of the civilian and military authorities in the mission area” (UNOMOR Background).

We all who followed the Situation in the Rwandan Genocide knew what happened after this and that the mission of United Nations Peacekeepers was not incapable of doing anything with the dire situation in Rwanda that was already in 1993 and what escalated in 1994. Those 81 Military Observers did not have the manpower or the mandate to sufficiently do anything in the country.

As we are today in April 2016, 12 years after 1994, in the neighbor country of Burundi who also have history of civil war and violence, that ended in the Arusha Peace Accord of 2000 and gave way to over a decade of peace. Still, it was not sufficient or enough. 

Burundi Violence

So the 15 Military Experts or Observers cannot deal with anything especially since their mandate is not yet there; as the negotiations with the Burundian government are under way, the Burundian government wants as little or no meddling in their internal affairs; and with that in mind they have stifled the ability to have international peacekeepers in the country. Even if the UN Mission in Burundi with their 100 Peacekeepers, how much more power will they compared to the counterparts in Rwanda in 1993-1994? I doubt the Burundian Government will give up sovereignty and let them play national Police and Army over them. As they have Army Forces in Peacekeeping mission themselves in Somalia and Central African Republic.

Burundian President Nkurunziza said this in late December 2015: “Everybody should respect the borders of Burundi. If the troops are in violation of this decision, they will have attacked Burundi, and each Burundian must stand up to fight them” (…)”The country will have been attacked, and we will fight them” (…)”You cannot send troops to a country if the United Nations Security Council has not accepted it… the UN resolution says the international community should respect the independence of Burundi” (Daily Monitor, 2015).

Now yesterday the new Resolution said they would extend the Military Experts (Observers) which counters the words and arguments used by the President in December 2015. That an Resolution from the United Nation would change the matter, even the resolution is so vague and non-descriptive as it even in dialogue with the Burundian Government:

“…urges the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to provide them with full cooperation in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate” (UN Resolution 2279, 2016).

Burundi-Museveni-Nkurunziza

This gives way to Burundian Government to do as they see fit in their sovereign territory while the Peacekeeping mission of United Nations will have little power or mandate to address, because we already knows that President Nkurunziza have little interest in having a powerful mandate to the United Nations Peacekeeping mission as he already wanted to attack the African Union planned Peacekeeping mission in the Country.

The 100 people of the UN Peacekeeping mission will in this state, and with this sort of arrangement and resolution gives lots of responsibility towards the Burundian Government, and will certainly not made in way that is adjusted to the concerns of the United Nation Security Council.

This resolution gives little or no direct mandate to the United Nations Mission and gives way for negotiations for the Burundian Government. Therefore the start of it is flawed and leaves possibilities of being a minor sting of pride for President Nkurunziza; as much as it was for President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda in 1993; to have a peacekeeping mission in his country. But if it has limited power or even reach, and with little manpower as it have, the worry for the Burundian government not necessary have to be there. Because the United Nation Mission can’t or doesn’t have the ability to stop anything; just peeping and monitoring at best; as much as the Human Rights workers that are parts of the Mission. The Military experts will be lame ducks, while waiting for a secure mandate. A mandate that the Government of Burundi not wanting to give them, as that will take away their sovereignity as a state and nation. Peace.  

Reference:

Daily Monitor – ‘Nkurunziza warns he would fight AU peacekeepers’ (30.12.2015) link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/Nkurunziza-warns-fight-AU-peacekeepers-/-/688340/3015170/-/k7p15vz/-/index.html

United Nation  – ‘Uganda-Rwanda-UNOMOR Background’

Museveni: Burundi government can’t set conditions (Youtube-Clip)

President Pierre Nkurunziza (CNDD-FDD) is elected for the third term in Burundi and the EAC Election Observer Mission – Preliminary Statement on the Election

Burundi Election result 2015

 

Today the results came from the Electoral Commission in Burundi wasn’t unexpected. We all knew that would happen. It’s not really much to say. We all expected it and there wasn’t really much news value in that. Other than the Government of Burundi will go into an uncertain future. With People of Burundi will not recognizing that Pierre Nkurunzia is again for the third time president of the Country. The president can use the High Court judgement, but that doesn’t stop the foreign pressure or local dissidence. The situation will be fragmented and sore wound after the violence want give more legitimacy to the President of Burundi. EAC had Election Observation Mission on the Election Day and has followed the election apparently. While the African Union and European Union suspended their missions and observers to it. So that they wanted to show that they didn’t’ want legitimacy to the actions of the president. There been oppressive actions towards the opposition in the country after the Coup d’état in the country. I think that the Preliminary Statement of the Election is worthy for everybody who follow Burundi show read it. Enjoy. Peace.

The East African Community deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to the Republic of Burundi for the 21 July 2015 Presidential Election. Hon. Abubakar Zein, a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), was the Head of the Mission and has released the Preliminary Statement of the Mission as below:

The East African Community Election Observation Mission to the Presidential Election of 21 July 2015 in the Republic of Burundi – PRELIMINARY STATEMENT, Bujumbura, 23 July 2015-

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. In response to the invitation by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Burundi (CENI); the Standing Decision of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers to observe elections in all EAC Partner States and the Decision of the 3rd EAC Emergency Summit on Burundi of 6 July 2015, the EAC deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to the Republic of Burundi for the 21 July 2015 Presidential Election.
  1. The EAC EOM was led by Hon. Abubakar Zein, a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and comprised 25 members drawn from the EALA, National Electoral Management Bodies, National Human Rights Commissions, Ministries of EAC Affairs, and Civil Society Organizations from four EAC Partner States namely the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda. The Mission deployed seven teams to observe the polling and counting processes in Bujumbura, Gitega, Ngozi, Kirundo, Mwaro, Muramvya, Karuzi, Muyinga, Rumonge, Bururi and Makamba Provinces.
  1. The EAC has followed the Burundi electoral process since January 2015 through consultative sessions by the EAC Eminent Persons (PEP), Pre-Election Assessment Mission (PEMi), the EAC Council of Ministers and EAC Emergency Summits. Through these initiatives, the EAC, while appreciating the state of affairs, identified challenges facing the electoral process and made appropriate recommendations. The Mission’s findings are also informed by the report of the aforementioned initiatives.
  1. This statement contains preliminary findings, recommendations and conclusions made by the Mission based on independent observation, interaction with electoral stakeholders including the CENI, political parties, civil society organizations, security agencies, and the media, among others. As the electoral process is still ongoing, this statement limits itself to the assessment made up to the polling and results counting processes. In due course, the Mission will avail a more detailed final report on the electoral process in Burundi through the EAC policy organs.
  1. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS

General Political Context

  1. The political context of the 2015 presidential election has been characterized by the controversy surrounding the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidature for a third term. This was viewed by some actors as a violation of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 2000 and the Constitution 2005 of Burundi. Other actors maintained that the first term did not count thus, the incumbent qualifies to vie in the 2015 presidential election. The incumbent’s nomination on 25 April 2015 sparked demonstrations in Bujumbura and some parts of the country which turned violent.
  1. The confirmation of the incumbent’s candidature by the Constitutional Court resulted in the deterioration of security situation and the prevailing political impasse in the country. There were persistent violent protests and an attempted coup d’état on 13 May 2015 which resulted in scores of deaths and deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. From the foregoing background, there was an influx of refugees estimated to be around 150,000, some of whom were registered voters, to neighboring countries including the Republic of Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  1. Successive dialogues mediated by the Joint International Facilitation Team comprising the EAC, African Union, United Nations and International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) were convened between Government, opposition representatives and other stakeholders in order to resolve the political stalemate. There were three successive EAC Emergency Summits on the situation in Burundi, and subsequent appointment of President Yoweri Museveni of the Republic of Uganda to facilitate a High Level Political Dialogue in a bid to resolve the political stalemate. The Mission noted that the Political Dialogue was postponed on the eve of the election without consensus.
  1. The presidential election which was initially scheduled to take place on 26 June 2015 was postponed to 15 July 2015 following a request by the EAC 2nd Emergency Summit and eventually to 21 July 2015. The 3rd EAC Emergency Summit requested for a delay until 30 July 2015 in order to allow for dialogue and consensus building on contentious issues among all the stakeholders.
  1. Lack of political consensus on key issues on the electoral process during the High Level Dialogue including the election calendar, insecurity, the candidature of the incumbent president, return of refugees, media freedoms and civil liberties, perpetuated uncertainty and fear. This state of affairs contributed to some opposition candidates withdrawing from the presidential race.

Legal and Institutional Framework

  1. The 2015 presidential election is governed by the Constitution 2005 and a set of laws regulations and decrees. The Constitution provides for fundamental rights and freedoms which are important for the participation of citizens in the electoral process. Article 8 of the Constitution provides for election by equal and universal suffrage. The suffrage is also extended to the citizens in diaspora thereby guaranteeing their enfranchisement.
  1. Whilst the framework is adequate for the conduct of democratic elections in Burundi, there have been violations of the fundamental civil and political rights that limited citizen participation in the electoral process. For instance, the attempted coup d’état heightened the closure of several private media outlets thereby impacting on the rights to freedom of expression. Similarly, this denied the citizens an alternative source of information that is critical in making an informed choice in the election.
  1. The amendment of the Electoral Code 2014, introduced the use of a single ballot paper that replaced the multiple ballot system. The Mission is of the opinion that this reform is a positive measure as it is able to contribute to enhancing the secrecy of the ballot as well as the overall cost of administration of elections but needed to be accompanied by adequate voter education.
  1. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is the election management body in Burundi comprising five commissioners who are appointed by the President subject to approval of the National Assembly. While CENI enjoys constitutional independence, it does not enjoy the confidence of a substantial proportion of stakeholders. The desertion of the Vice President and one Commissioner as well as withdrawal of members of the Catholic Church from the CENI structures in May 2015 impacted on public’s perception on the credibility of CENI.
  1. The Constitutional Court has the jurisdiction to arbitrate election disputes for Presidential and legislative elections in Burundi. It is also tasked with announcement of final election results for presidential election. While the Court constitutionally enjoys independence and impartiality, the desertion of the Vice President of the Court impacted on public’s perception on the credibility of the Court.

Voter Registration and Voters’ Roll

  1. There were a total of 3,849,728 registered voters for the 2015 elections. The first voter registration exercise was conducted between November and December 2014. The CENI made efforts to enfranchise more voters in March 2015 through a partial voter registration upon the request of political parties and also allowed for inspection of the voters’ roll by the parties.
  1. The Mission noted that the two-step voter registration process was operationally cumbersome. The registrants were issued with a récépissé (waiting slip) and were later to be issued with a voter’s card. The two-step process affected the distribution of the voter cards as the cards had not been distributed by 26 May 2015, being the initial date of parliamentary and communal elections before the postponement of polls.

Election Campaign

  1. All political parties and candidates should be allowed to campaign freely as per the law and with due regard to expression of fundamental freedoms of association, assembly and speech in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to the Electoral Code, the election campaign lasts for 14 days.
  1. The campaign environment was generally tense and characterized by fear and uncertainty. The political stalemate surrounding the candidature of the incumbent president, concerns relating to the security of candidates and their supporters and the subsequent postponement of polls impacted the electoral process and implementation of the campaign calendar.
  1. Some candidates to the presidential election participated in the political dialogue aimed at resolving the political stalemate, a process that took place during the campaign period. This impacted on the candidates’ ability to solicit for votes and for the voters to make informed decisions on leaders of their choice. This uncertainty was further accentuated by the reported withdrawal of some candidates from the presidential race, a few days before the polls.

Media environment

  1. An already constrained media in a shrinking democratic space was further affected by the attempted coup d état. The media environment during the electoral process was affected by the ongoing political stalemate. During the period of the failed coup d’état, five private media outlets were destroyed on 13 and 14 May 2015, namely, Radio and Television REMA, Radio and Television Renaissance, Radio Isanganiro, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), and Radio Sans Frontiere Bonesha FM. The limited access to alternative sources of information apart from the State broadcaster, especially during the electioneering period, limited space for pluralistic ideas and impacted upon the playing field among political competitors. This in turn constrained the options for voters to be adequately informed on the electoral process and make informed choices.

Security Environment

  1. The Presidential election in Burundi was held against a backdrop of a tense and violent pre-election period. April to June 2015 witnessed some of the most violent incidents, including a failed coup d’état. Arising from the observed pattern of behaviour over the period, and following a risk assessment mapping, it was noted that the Provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza and Kayanza had experienced unprecedented violence over the three weeks preceding the presidential polls.
  1. On the eve of the polls, there were incidents of shooting, grenade attack and subsequent reports of three deaths in Bujumbura which heightened fear among the population. It was also noted that within Bujumbura city, the following areas were restive with unpredictable security environment: Cibitoke, Mutakura, Buterere, Ngagara, Jabe, Nyakabiga, Kanyosha and Musaga. The Mission did not deploy observers in the above captioned regions as a result of the unpredictable security environment. However, there was relative calm in other parts of the country.

Civic and Voter Education

  1. The conduct of civic and voter education had challenges and was exacerbated by insufficient funding. The withdrawal of funding by development partners impacted on the voter education which led to reprioritization of resources by the Government of Burundi. In this regard, the Mission noted that voter education initiatives were minimal despite CENI having introduced a single ballot paper of which voters needed to be adequately educated.

Polling and Counting Processes

  1. The EAC observers visited a total of 80 polling stations. The polling process was generally calm and peaceful. Whereas most stations opened on time, some opened later than the stipulated time of 6:00am. In some stations, voting had not started as late as 10.00 am. In Bujumbura, anxiety over insecurity and late arrival of election materials impacted on the timely opening of the polls.
  1. In most polling stations visited, polling personnel were present and election materials were in adequate quantity. The polling personnel generally managed the polling process in a professional manner. Apart from the CNDD-FDD party agents who were present in all stations visited by the EAC Observers, there was a notable absence of party agents of most opposition political parties despite the obligatory requirement by Electoral Code.
  1. Beside the EAC observers, the Mission noted the presence of domestic observers and international observers from the MENUB, ICGLR, as well as embassies of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. Most polling stations closed at 4pm as stipulated in the Electoral Code. The counting process took place immediately after the closure of the polls and registered no incident in all polling stations visited by EAC observers.
  1. The EAC observers noted that the voter turnout was generally ranged from low to average in most polling stations visited.    

PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Based on the above findings, the EAC Election Observation Mission to the 21 July 2015 presidential election makes the following recommendations:  

a) To All National Stakeholders: 

Pursue an all-inclusive and honest dialogue in order to find a sustainable solution to the political impasse prevailing in Burundi.

b) To the Government: Ensure that peace and security is guaranteed for all citizens of Burundi; Undertake measures to ensure that law and order is maintained in a manner that uphold respect for human rights;

iii. Ensure that there is adequate funding for the conduct of elections;

– Undertake measures to ensure safe return and reintegration of refugees in Burundi;

– Undertake capacity building measures to strengthen and enhance the efficiency of governance institutions to promote sustainable democratic development;

– Enhance the capacity of security agencies in respecting the fundamental human rights of the citizens while maintaining law order;

vii. Undertake measures to remove restrictions on media freedom and allow private media.

c) To Parliament:

– Pursue legal and institutional reforms aimed at safeguarding the independence of the CENI and the Judiciary;

– Delink the registration of political parties from the Ministry of Interior.

d) To CENI: 

– Consider merging of voter registration and issuance of voters cards in order to enhance operational efficiency and minimize the challenges experienced in the 2015 electoral process;

– Undertake voter education in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to enhance public awareness and participation in electoral processes.

e) To the East African Community: 

Continue engagement with all stakeholders to find a sustainable solution to the prevailing political impasse in the country.

 f) To the International Community: 

Sustain engagement with the Government and all national stakeholders in order to address the prevailing political, social and economic challenges in the country.

CONCLUSION: 

The people of Burundi have enjoyed relative peace since the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 2000, which constitutes the bedrock for building democracy, sustainable peace and development in the country. The Mission notes that the electoral period has been characterised by anxiety and uncertainty. The Mission notes with concern that successive efforts to build consensus through inclusive dialogue among Burundi stakeholders have not been successful.

  1. The Mission noted that there was relative peace on the polling day. However, the principle of choice was generally hampered by among others, insecurity ( a general feeling of fear and despondency in some parts of the country), confinement of democratic space, civil liberties including freedom of speech, assembly, media, campaigning and the boycott by opposition parties.
  1. The electoral process fell short of the principles and standards for holding free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible elections as stipulated in various international, continental as well as the EAC Principles of Election Observation and Evaluation.
  1. The EAC Observation Mission urges all stakeholders to maintain calm and to re-engage in candid and inclusive dialogue in order to find sustainable solution to the political impasse prevailing in Burundi.
  1. The Mission would like to thank and extend its profound gratitude to the people and the Government of Burundi, CENI and MENUB for their cooperation during the mission.

Issued at Royal Palace Hotel, Bujumbura this 23 July 2015

Signed by

…………………………………………

Hon. Zein Abubakar

Head of Mission

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