Following elections, Burundi needs world's support more than ever - UN envoy

With Burundi's senate elections, the latest in a series, now successfully completed, the international community must give even more support so that the people of the war-torn country can see the benefits of democracy and not fall back into crisis, according to the top United Nations envoy there.

"Burundi has emerged from the crisis but it has been noticed that many countries fall back into crises because they do not receive the necessary support," Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, Carolyn McAskie, said of the small Central African nation of 6 million that is emerging from decades of ethically fuelled conflict between Hutus and Tutsis.

"The international community must lend even more support to Burundi because the country will find itself in a very precarious situation if the newly-installed government does not have the necessary resources to meet the people's needs," she told journalists in Bujumbura, the capital.

"What is necessary now is for the population to see the benefits of democracy and to remain hopeful. Voting is one thing and having a new government another. But what the population expects is to have security for the family, jobs, the possibility of educating children, and so on."

Ms. McAskie noted that the senate elections last Friday were hitch-free: "Judging from what I witnessed in Bujumbura Mairie and Bujumbura Rural, as well as the reports that I received from the field, I am convinced that the elections were very well organized," she said. "The results show an overwhelming vote for just one party but that is the people's will."

Ms. McAskie heads the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB), set up in May 2004 to help cement a multi-party, power-sharing government and pave the way to peace in the small nation of some 6 million people torn asunder by ethnic conflicts between Hutus and Tutsis.