Press Releases

                                                                                                                            2 June 2004

    In Message to “Handover” Ceremony for UN Operation in Burundi, Secretary-General Pledges to Work “Shoulder to Shoulder” with People to Build Better Future

    NEW YORK, 1 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, read out by Berhanu Dinka, Special Representative for Burundi, at the handover ceremony from the African Mission in Burundi to the United Nations Operation in Burundi, in Bujumbura today:

    Burundi is today witnessing the dawning of a new day in its peace process, marked by the official handover of the mandate of the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) to the United Nations Operation in Burundi, or ONUB.

    Allow me to express my appreciation to the African Union for setting up the African Force at a time when the United Nations was not prepared to deploy a UN peacekeeping mission.  It was the first time, since its establishment in 1963, that the pan-African Organization had taken such a step.  I salute the Organization for its courage and determination in assisting the peace process in Burundi, and I thank the countries that provided contingents to AMIB -- South Africa, Ethiopia and Mozambique.  I also extend my sincere appreciation to the personnel of the African Force for carrying out their mission honourably and with great dedication, despite difficult conditions.  Let me also convey my profound gratitude to the heads of State of the Regional Initiative and to the Facilitation for their untiring efforts.

    The Security Council has entrusted the United Nations Operation in Burundi with a wide range of political, military and advisory responsibilities.  The Operation will work impartially with each of the parties to help them implement the commitment they entered into under the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and various ceasefire agreements.  It will work hand in hand with the Regional Initiative and the Facilitation, and rely on the help of the international community and humanitarian and development agencies in Burundi.  That is why I invite the entire political class to assume its responsibility and work urgently for compromises aimed at accelerating the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation process and the reform of the army, as provided for in the Arusha agreement and various ceasefire agreements.

    I also urge you to work towards a swift adoption of the post-Transition Constitution, Electoral Code and Commune Act, so that elections may be held under safe and stable conditions within the planned time frame.  Once again, I urge PALIPEHUTU-FNL/Agathon Rwasa, without further delay, to resume peace negotiations with the transitional Government to put an end to the persistent war.

    The United Nations is determined to see this operation succeed. It calls on the international community to continue and strengthen its support for the peace process, especially for the protection of the civilian population, the issue of refugees and displaced persons, the implementation of the DDRR process, the establishment of the new defence and security forces and the institution of democracy and the rule of law.  We will work shoulder to shoulder with the people of Burundi to build a better future.

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