Communiqué of the African Union on the peace process in Burundi

14 January 2003(PRESS AND INFORMATION) - The Central Organ of the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution held its 88th Ordinary Session at Ambassadorial level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday 14 January 2003. The Session was chaired by Ambassador Baso Sangqu, South Africa's Permanent Representative to the African Union.

The Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma, co-Facilitator of the cease-fire negotiations between the Transition Government of Burundi and the armed groups in that country, attended the Session. Also in attendance were Mr. Therence Sinunguruza, Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation of Burundi, and Mr. Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa.

The Session examined developments in the peace process in Burundi on the basis of the report presented by the Interim Chairperson of the Commission [(Central Organ/MEC/AMB/3(LXXXVIII)] and the briefing by Deputy President Zuma, as well as a statement by the Burundi Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation.

After its deliberations, the Central Organ took the following decisions:

On the Peace Process in Burundi

The Central Organ:

1. EXPRESSES satisfaction at the signing in Arusha, Tanzania, on 2 December 2002, at the 19th Summit of the Regional Initiative for Peace in Burundi, held on 1 - 2 December 2002, of a cease-fire agreement between the Transition Government of Burundi and Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza's wing of the CNDD-FDD. The Central Organ UNDERSCORES the fact that this agreement, which comes after that signed on 7 October 2002 between the Transition Government and Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye's faction of the CNDD-FDD and Alain Mugabarabona's faction of PALIPEHUTU-FNL, constitutes a significant step in the peace process in Burundi;

2. PAYS TRIBUTE to the Transition Government of Burundi, particularly to President P. Buyoya, and the armed groups concerned, for the spirit of compromise and the political will they have demonstrated which made possible this progress in the search for lasting peace in Burundi;

3. URGES the parties concerned to scrupulously respect the agreements that have been signed and to refrain from any action likely to complicate the implementation of the cease-fire. In this regard, the Central Organ EXPRESSES ITS GRAVE CONCERN at recent incidents between the armed forces of Burundi and the combatants of CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza, as well as the tension prevailing on the ground, which poses a serious threat to the pursuit of the on-going peace process;

4. CONDEMNS the ambush of a convoy of vehicles travelling towards Bujumbura, on 12 January 2003, in which several people were killed and many others wounded;

5. APPEALS to the parties involved to extend maximum cooperation to the Co-Facilitator and to attend the scheduled follow-up meeting that has been convened in Pretoria, South Africa, on 16 January 2003, to clarify outstanding issues relating to the implementation of the ceasefire, including the implementation timetable and TAKES NOTE of the disposition expressed by the Transition Government of Burundi to attend the meeting;

6. UNDERSCORES the urgent need to deploy the African Mission to supervise the cease-fire concluded between the armed groups signatories to the 7 October and 2 December 2002 agreements, and the Transition Government of Burundi and EXPRESSES ITS SUPPORT for this deployment. In this regard, the Central Organ ENCOURAGES the Interim Chairperson to urgently provide financial resources from the AU Peace Fund and to assist in mobilizing other resources to facilitate the speedy deployment of the African Mission;

7. WELCOMES the initiative of the Interim Chairperson to convene in Addis Ababa from 15 to 16 January 2003, a meeting of experts from the Regional Initiative, the Mediation, the Commission of the African Union and the United Nations to discuss the nature of the proposed African Mission, its deployment, modus operandi and funding, as well as the contribution expected from the African Union;

8. Meanwhile, REQUESTS the Interim Chairperson, in consultation with the Regional Initiative and the Mediation, to take all the necessary measures to help consolidate the truce between the parties and to create a conducive climate of trust necessary for the implementation of the cease-fire and the rapid deployment of the African Mission. In this regard, the Central Organ AUTHORIZES the Interim Chairperson to deploy, as early as possible, a group of African Union observers to, among other things, facilitate communication between the parties with a view to reducing the risk of violations of the truce and carry out any other tasks as shall be agreed with the parties to create and consolidate confidence among them;

9. INVITES the Interim Chairperson, in close consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union, the Regional Initiative, the Mediation and the United Nations, as well as with all the concerned parties, to work purposefully towards the immediate establishment of the Joint Ceasefire Commission and the Joint Liaison Teams, in conformity with the relevant provisions of the 7 October and 2 December 2002 Agreements;

10. REQUESTS Member States to provide the requisite assistance to facilitate the deployment of the African Mission and the implementation of the cease-fire;

11. REITERATES its profound gratitude to the partners of the African Union for their continued support to the Union, the Regional Initiative and the Mediation in their efforts to foster a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi. The Central Organ APPEALS URGENTLY to the partners of the African Union and to the entire international community to provide financial and logistical assistance towards the rapid deployment of the African Mission and the implementation of the Cease-fire Agreements;

12. REQUESTS the United Nations to make a substantial contribution towards the implementation of the Cease-fire Agreement. To this end, the Central Organ TAKES NOTE of the statement made by the UN Security Council following its meeting with Deputy President Jacob Zuma on 4 December 2002;

13. EXPRESSES GRATITUDE to countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations for their assistance towards the provision of supplies and the pre-encampment of combatants of the armed movements, contributing by so doing to the consolidation of the truce, and URGES them to continue in that direction;

14. URGES Agathon Rwasa's faction of PALIPEHUTU-FNL to join in the on-going process and to put an end to its attacks;

15. PAYS GLOWING TRIBUTE to President Thabo Mbeki, Current Chairperson of the African Union, President Yoweri Museveni and the other Heads of State and Government of the Regional Initiative, the Co-Facilitators, President El Hadj Omar Bongo and Mr. Jacob Zuma, as well as former President Nelson Mandela, for their contribution to the search of peace and stability in Burundi, and ENCOURAGES them to pursue their effort until the successful conclusion of the peace process;

16. WELCOMES the results of the Round Table held in Geneva on 26 - 27 November 2002, and EXPRESSES ITS GRATITUDE to Burundi's bilateral and multilateral donors. The Central Organ URGES the donors who had pledged contributions during the Round Table to translate their commitments into concrete measures;

17. REQUESTS the Interim Chairperson to continue to monitor closely the developments in the situation as well as in the cease-fire implementation process and up-date it regularly on progress in that respect.