Remarking that four years on there hasn’t been any relapse into the kind of violence that erupted during the 2015 elections, UN Assistant Secretary General for Africa, Bintou Keita notes that this bodes well for the country, hence the need for partners and stakeholders to rally behind ongoing efforts to consolidate peace in Burundi.
“A number of actors are carrying out projects to solidify peace and they need to be supported to enhance the consolidation of peace,” Ms Keita said in Bujumbura. She expressed these sentiments on August 31 at the conclusion of a weeklong visit to Burundi.
Visibly elated at getting a feel again of the country, the ASG was reconnecting with Burundi nearly ten years since her stint with the defunct UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), in which she served as Deputy Head of mission.
This time around she was visiting to appraise things on the ground first-hand. Ms Keita met and held discussions with senior government officials, including deputy Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Ntahiraja and First Vice President Gaston Sindimwo.
She also met separately with representatives of the civil society (including youth and women’s groups), political actors, religious authorities, members of the diplomatic community, and colleagues of the UN Country Team.
Ms Keita’s itinerary also included a couple of field trips, including a visit to the Good Samaritan Orphanage, a humanitarian initiative of Burundi’s First Lady Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza in Buye, Ngozi Province.
Of note, her visit, which lasted August 26 through 31 came against the backdrop of continuing efforts by the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Burundi (OSESG-B) to ramp up regional efforts at forging inclusive dialogue and reconciliation in the country, particularly in view of general elections planned for next year.
Key among these peace initiatives has been the inter-Burundi Dialogue that was mooted by the East African Community (EAC) in the wake of the 2015 election crisis. By and large the process remains inconclusive after five rounds of talks hosted over the last three years by neighbouring Tanzania.
In continuing moves to shore up support and coordinated action among regional players, the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Burundi, Michel Kafando held consultations in Kampala earlier on August 23 with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who was designated by the EAC to mediate in the regional peace process.