CONTRIBUTION OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN PEACE PROCESS IN BURUNDI.
Ir. Emmanuel NSHIMIRIMANA,
GPPAC Focal Point and President of the follow-up committee,
Rohero I, Av. Bubanza n?12
Tel. +257-245080 or +257-739758.
Burundi is about to leave from a crisis which will have shaken the country since its independence in 1962, more particularly since 1993 with the assassination of the first democratically elected President and his closer collaborators, as well as widespread mass killings in ethnic matter. Consequently, Burundi thrown in an institutional crisis, characterised by armed groups, war and insecurity.
With this situation of war, political and social instability, several alternative solutions were attempted, passing from a convention of government in 1994, government of partnership in 1998, then with the transitional government in 2000, but without carrying significant results which could restore peace and security. Finally, it is the Arusha Peace Agreement, signed in August 2000 but with some reserves, and the cease-fire in 2003 that will have shown the sign of new hope to exit from the crisis, stopping violence and the organization of elections in 2005 which would put an end to the transition government by giving place to democratically elected institutions.
The success of the electoral process is the result of combined efforts of Burundi population and the international community. As of the installation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), the Forum for the Reinforcement of the Civil Society (FORSC) initiated a vast program called "Coalition of the Civil Society for Elections Monitoring" (COSOME) which launched at the beginning of the process in vast campaigns of citizenship and electoral education before supervision and observation of the elections.
The commitment of public and private media played a determining role in sensitizing and education of the population lasting all the process through Synergy of the Media. They shared their human and material means in order to ensure the cover of all the country by professional reporters. The two initiatives of the civil society allowed the improvement of the environment, the appeasing of the spirits, the discouragement of frauds and especially the transparency of the polls.
During the peace process, the international community, particularly the United Nations and the countries of the Great Lakes sub-region narrowly worked with Burundians, either by moral and material support, or by ensuring mediation. The presence of the United Nations mission in Burundi (ONUB) and UN agencies has made a significant work on
the field. It was added to the efforts of international NGOs present in Burundi and
thworking in varied fields. stAugust, 2006 and September 1, 2006 for Burundian civil society organizations (the list Today, the Burundi peace process is in a post conflict phase with a series of challenges
of participant is given in appendix). These workshops were initiated by the national focal which should be raised in order to prevent new violence.
point of GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed conflicts) and FORSC This document is the result of two consultation workshops organized respectively on 30(Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile). During these consultations, a follow-up committee made up by five delegates was set up. These are the GPPAC focal point
as President of the committee, the General Delegate of FORSC as deputy President,
the representative of the Peace and Reconciliation section of FORSC, the President of
Burundi women NGOs (CAFOB) and a representative of the National Council of the
Churches of Burundi – CNEB- (religious organization).
II. The Contribution of civil society in the peace process.
During all these moments of crisis, the civil society remained serene and accompanied
the peace process. In this complicated situation, human rights organisations
contributed in the promotion and defence of human rights. Annual human rights reports
on Burundi are published by League Iteka since 1999
Other organizations worked together to fight against bad practices of corruption and economic embezzlements in a context where the accountability and good
management are not in the leaders’ priorities. Among other revelations on public
mismanagement observed in attributions of public markets are in particular, the sales of
the presidential aircraft, the sugar marketing system, roads refection, etc.
In spite of the tradition that wants the wife to stay at home, Burundian women,
particularly members of female organizations, continued to sensitize and fight for their
political rights. In consequence, the rate of participation of women in official institutions
was raised, as well as the diversity of female organisations and the rate of access to
primary and secondary schools for girls. Currently, the constitution recognises at least
30% of women participation in official institutions.
In peace and reconciliation area, different organizations and particularly religious confessions, accomplished a significant work in bringing together different communities.
Different visits organised to Tanzania refugee camps have contributed for a big number
of them to return back. Other organisations took part in the peace talks as observers
contributing in giving alternative solutions to raise dead ends.
During the electoral process, the COSOME took an active part front, during and after the
elections in the following way:
1 The reports are available on www.iteka.bi.
- During the pre-election phase, it organised trainings in the 129 communes of
the country. The objectives of these trainings were to improve citizens’ awareness,
to prevent violence during the electoral process and to promote the effective
participation of people in the electoral process. Trainings of the trainers were
organized in Bujumbura prior the training of observers in all the provinces of the
country. In total, 1,200 observers were trained. The purpose was to guarantee
transparency of the polls. The COSOME aligned an observer for each commune
in the country, attaining a total of 136 observers at the national level. Each
observer had the mandate to follow the meetings, the radio spots and to submit a
report on the electoral campaign. Summary reports were produced and
published before the vote and for each stage of the electoral process.
- During the electoral phase: COSOME aligned two observers at each province
to coordinate observers’ activities in provincial offices. There was also a national
office which regularly received information from the provinces to diffuse them
through the synergy of the media created just for electoral monitoring.
- Activities during the post electoral: the COSOME officially presented its
observation report of the electoral process. This report was given to political
parties, the independent electoral national commission, the United Nations
agencies, the European Union, and embassies accredited in Burundi.
For capacity building, some organizations acquired a certain organisational experience 2and improved their strategies for effective impact of their actions. One of these , in order to promote work in
experiences has been to create a platform of civil society organisations, namely the synergy. Their work is reinforced by spaces of expression widened by the private media.
Forum for Reinforcement of the Civil Society (FORSC)
III. Major challenges of the Burundi peace process.
Experience has shown that the majority of countries getting out of crisis turn over easily
in conflict if the post conflict period is not managed in a responsible way. In Burundi, the
favourable results of the peace process and recent pluralist and democratic elections,
the country has got a new stability but which remains fragile. This fragility is related to a
series of challenges observed in various sectors of the country life.
On the security level, calms reign on a great part of the territory since the signature of the Global cease fire Agreement in 2003. However, an armed rebellion
(Palipehutu-FNL), still remain active in some provinces and the peace talks are far to get
to an end. Moreover, there are still not exploded mines and other machines which
constitute a threat for the populations in the places where there has been fighting. Until
today, much of weapons circulate within the civil populations and thousands of
demobilized soldiers without clear supervision can be tempted to make use of them for
criminal purposes. We also note the existence of the armed robberies and vendetta.
2 The FORSC has currently 85 civil society organizations members.
Disarmament of civil becomes controversial in such situation of persistent insecurity.
The recrudescence of violence by attacks in the bars making died and casualties
increase the fear particularly in Bujumbura, the capital. That is worsened by a political
speech which is not reassuring.
On the political level, we positively note the result of the electoral process which set
up institutions by the popular will. However, we observe the absence of the inclusive
political dialogue in public affairs management, the increasing violations of the
constitution and the Arusha Peace Agreement as well as the persecution of
opposition political leaders for their opinions. This situation obliged the principal
opposition party, the FRODEBU, to leave officially the Government. Moreover, we
note divergent declarations among government members on subjects of public
interest. The peace restoration mechanisms like demobilization, justice, mediation
and reconciliation are not led in a transparent way.
On the human rights side, after the signature of the overall cease fire agreement,
violations of the right to the life appreciably decreased the freedom of movements and
the freedom of expression had clearly improved. However, we currently note that the
human rights are violated on a large scale, sometimes by the police and the National
Defence Forces (FDN). The obstacles to freedom of expression, the arbitrary
imprisonments, and the extra-judiciary executions have increased much in one year with
the lead of the elected government. Unfortunately, the authors of these infringements
benefit in many cases of impunity. The government neither respects its commitments
with the national and international community in human rights protection. The cases of
the executions and disappearances particularly in provinces of Muyinga and Bujumbura
are very speaking. The imprisonment of the former president of the republic Domitien
NDAYIZEYE showing him to have fomented a putsch is another indicator which shows
that we are on the way of the resumption of violence; what shocked the moral and the
conscience of a part of Burundian is the imprisonment and torture inflicted to ex-vice-
president Alphonse Marie Kadege and others in violation of convention against torture
and other sorrows or cruel treatment, inhuman or degrading to which Burundi subscribed.
On the justice level, there is serious challenges in the Justice institution. Truth and
responsibility were never established on the killings which were perpetrated in the
country. And, even for cases where the truth is known, victims never profited from
repairing justice and compensations to prepare a durable reconciliation. In addition,
even the mechanisms of suitable and transparent transitional justice are still not
installed so that the majority of the crimes remain unpunished and the victims
rehabilitated. But in this precise field, we note in overall a lack of independence of the
magistracy whose action is strongly marked by frequent cases of corruption and
interferences of the executive in the legal files.
On the socio-economic level, the principal challenges are related to the
management of the public resources, poverty and development issues and
reconstruction. Economically, civil society organisations note the absence of
th position of poverty on 177 transparency in the management in comparison with increasing cases of countries. The currently infant mortality rate is 11, 4% while the life expectancy to the embezzlements and corruption. Poverty remains widespread in the people, making them birth is 42 years. Under these conditions of lack of vital minimum, it is difficult to build potentially victims of political and moral corruption. In 2005, the index of human sustainable peace. development (IHD) was 0,378 placing Burundi on the 169There is also excessive environment degradation and a strong dependence of the great
majority of the population on land. This is one of the sources conflicts which can be
sometimes violent. The land issue is one of significant elements to be considered in the
reinstallation and reinsertion of internally displaced people and returnees. Socially, it
should be mentioned the insufficiency of social dialogue at all levels. The reality is that
the lack of infrastructure, human and material resources has a consequence on
inaccessibility to education and health care. Other problems not less significant are the
unemployment which strikes most of youth and the propagation of the pandemic
diseases like the HIV/AIDS.
IV. Recommendations from Burundi civil society organisations to the Peace
Building Commission (PBC).
Considering the actual challenges, the civil society estimates that in order to carry out
positive impacts in Burundi, the Peace Building Commission should articulate its actions
particularly in the following areas:
a permanent social and political dialogue between all actors in
order to solve the difficulties which arise. These actors are mainly the
Government, the political opposition, the non government actors (civil society,
private sector, religious confessions, and mass media).
The setting of appropriate transitional justice mechanisms to the Burundi context
after broad popular consultation and in the minimum respect of the principles of
rehabilitation of the basic infrastructures (schools, hospital, roads…)
? Capacity building for non government actors to allow them better play their role to
promote good governance and public participation,
? Conduct trainings of different institutions on operational methods adapted to the
democratic governance, particularly for members of the Parliament, the
communal and local councils as well as the new army and police force institutions.
? Reinforcement of participatory development in order to guarantee local
governance during the design, the implementation, the monitoring and the
evaluation of development projects.
? The promotion and the protection of human rights in order to help people achieve
correctly their duties know and defend their rights.
? To make advocacy on financial institutions in order to put Burundi on the rails of
? The influence of the government to respect its commitments adopted through the
constitution and the national texts of laws as well as the ratifications of the
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