Burundi

USAID Field Report Burundi Jan 2003

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United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
Program Description

USAID/OTI's goal in Burundi is to promote good governance and the active and informed participation of citizens. The objectives are to: increase active and informed discussions among people of diverse ethnic groups about common public issues; and, encourage the evolution of government institutions at all levels to be more transparent and accountable. To achieve these objectives, USAID/OTI is undertaking the following activities:

Legislative Strengthening Initiative

OTI is supporting a legislative assistance program to enhance the Burundian legislature's role in promoting peace and reconciliation. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) are working closely with the National Assembly and the Senate to enhance awareness among Burundian legislators of their roles and responsibilities under APRA, and to increase dialogue and cooperation among legislators from different political parties. The program is also encouraging representatives to undertake outreach initiatives that increase public dialogue and participation.

Burundi Initiative for Peace

The Burundi Initiative for Peace (BIP), implemented with the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), provides a series of small grants to encourage popular support for APRA and for the transitional government. The small grants program works in targeted geographic areas to support activities that maintain the momentum for peace.

COUNTRY SITUATION

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and the leaders of three Hutu rebel movements CNDD-FDD (Pierre Nkurinziza), Palipehutu FNL (Alain Mugarabona), and CNDD-FDD (Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of earlier cease-fire agreements. The FNL (Agathon Rwasa) did not sign the cease-fire agreement and continues to fight, particularly in the areas surrounding Bujumbura.

Following the signing of a cease-fire agreement in December, the FDD (Pierre Nkurinziza) requested food assistance for its troops who were facing starvation and had resorted to stealing from local villages. The European Union agreed to assist and the German Development Agency distributed 20 metric tons in January in the province of Bubanza. Once distribution began, many non-rebels attempted to receive assistance by claiming to be rebels. The Government of Burundi stopped the food distributions after the January 6. The Government feared provision of assistance to non-rebels claiming to be rebels would suggest a higher number of rebels than actually exists and complicate the current negotiations with the rebels.

Three African countries (Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa) have agreed to supply troops for a peace monitoring force in the near future. The UN Security Council mandated the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to "respond positively" to requests for assistance in setting up the African Mission in Burundi.

The Minister of Interior and Public Security extended the detainment of former President Colonel Jean Baptiste Bagaza, who has been under house arrest for the last two months. Bagaza was put under house arrest in November after being accused of planning the assassination of President Buyoya. On January 21, the President of one wing of the UPRONA party, Charles Mukasi, was arrested for a second time at his residence and returned to Mpimba Prison. Mikasi's arrest followed a speech he gave to his supporters in which he was highly critical of the Arusha Peace Accord and Buyoya's transitional government.

HIGHLIGHTS

A. Narrative Summary

The National Outreach Program "Choose Peace" is meant to build ties between parliamentarians and their constituents. Parliamentarians visited four provinces with 80 percent of the parliamentarians actively participating in meetings with their constituents. Thousands of citizens participated in meetings with their parliamentarians. Several small infrastructure grants awarded in January were a result of the needs assessment done jointly by the parliamentarians and the population.

Discussions with the Ministry for Good Governance and Privatization continue on a project to develop grass roots, multi-ethnic groups that will provide oversight to the local as well as national administration to hold Burundian leaders accountable. A working group has been convened by the Ministry to analyze practical ways of establishing these groups at the grassroots level.

B. Indicators of Success

Five sub- grants were signed totaling $99,437

Commission Episcopal Justice et Paix, CEJP: ($26,843) This six-month project in collaboration with the Minister for Mobilization for Peace and Reconciliation and the Catholic Church will provide accurate dissemination of the APRA throughout Burundi.

Le groupe Théâtrale "NINDE?" ($16,905) This project will develop and film plays promoting peace and reconciliation. They will be aired on the Government TV station, RTNB.

L'Eglise Evangélique des Amis: ($17,689) This grant was awarded to refurbish the secondary school in Kibimba, Gitega province. This school, which had a student body of over 1,000, was closed in 1993 when seventy students were burned alive and the school was destroyed. The destruction of the school and the loss of lives has been a wound in Burundi that has been slow to heal. The reopening of the school provides a strong statement that peace is finally coming to Burundi and children of all ethnicities will again be able to study and live together peacefully.

Project JAMAA: ($31,000) This grant will support the airing of the locally produced movie "The Best Choice" in primary and high schools as well as in churches in five provinces. The theme of the film encourages youth to adopt positive attitudes, banish violence, and promote reconciliation and peace.

Abaniki: ($7,000) This grant to the largest multi-ethnic women's association in Bujumbura will allow it to restart its activities. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1993 this group was active in the multi-ethnic neighborhoods of Kinama and Cibitoke providing a variety of income generation activities as well as a forum for the women to discuss common issues.

C. Indicators of Success

The President of the Senate in his opening remarks of the Senate session highlighted OTI's National Outreach Program saying that this program has provided a means for the parliamentarians to meet with their constituents and begin to understand the needs presented by the grass roots population.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

Following the signing of the cease-fire agreement between the Government and three of the Hutu rebel groups, and the country's plan for Demobilization, Disarmament and Reinsertion, OTI will refocus its activities in those geographic areas that will see the greatest numbers of returning ex-combatants and demobilized members of the Burundian army. OTI will work in collaboration with The World Bank and the various government ministries charged with oversight of this process.

Also, planning will continue of the Good Governance project in close collaboration with the Ministry of Good Governance and Privatization. A needs assessment in the provinces where the BIP will concentrate activities will be completed shortly.

For further information, please contact:

In Burundi: Cyndi Scarlett, OTI Burundi Country Representative, e-mail: scarlettcl@state.gov; telephone: 257-955-635
In Washington, D.C.: Patrick Wingate, Program Manager, e-mail: pwingate@usaid.gov; telephone: 202-712-0827.