Burndi: UN envoy ends tour of duty, outlines nation's challenges

from IRIN
Published on 04 Apr 2006
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Bujumbura, 4 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - The fight against poverty, postwar reconstruction and peace negotiations with Burundi's remaining rebel group are the main peace-related challenges facing the country, said Carolyn McAskie, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative to Burundi and head of its UN mission, on Tuesday at the end of her term in the country.

"The key for peace in Burundi is continuation of dialogue," she told a news conference in the capital, Bujumbura. McAskie said the Burundian people should continue to trust the strong UN team she was leaving behind. "One person leaves, but the UN remains in the country," she said as she prepared to return to her native country, Canada.

McAskie was head of the UN Mission in Burundi (known by its French acronym, ONUB) since its establishment in 2004. Nureldin Satti, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General to Burundi, will take over McAskie's responsibilities until December.

At a news conference on 22 March at ONUB, McAskie said the full protection of human rights in countries like Burundi remained complicated. However, she was satisfied with the progress Burundi had made in disclosing the truth about its history, calling the country a model of peace in the Great Lakes region, as it had paved the way for democracy by holding general elections in 2005. McAskie said she would continue to advocate for both financial and political support to Burundi from the international community.

By the end of April, ONUB would have completed 40 percent of its troop withdrawal from the country; most police advisers would have left by May, she said. "At the government's request, an extensive human rights capacity would be retained, and the UN would also support the establishment of judicial mechanisms," ONUB reported.

McAskie is a former Canadian ambassador to Sri Lanka. Prior to her appointment as head of ONUB, she was UN Assistant-Secretary-General and deputy head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.