8 September 20005

In Message to Presidential Inaugural Ceremony, Secretary-General Congratulates People of Burundi for Successful Conclusion of Transitional Process

(Delayed for translation of text, originally delivered in French.)

NEW YORK, 26 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on 26 August, at the ceremony for the inauguration of the President of the Republic of Burundi in Bujumbura:

It is truly with great pleasure that I extend my greetings and best wishes to all of you who are gathered here to celebrate an event of historic importance to Burundi.

I should like to congratulate the people of Burundi and their leaders for their resolve to conclude this unprecedented transitional process successfully.  Today, with the investiture of the country's first elected president in more than a decade, the efforts of Burundi's leaders, with the support of the international community, can be considered a breakthrough for Africa and for African conflict resolution.

I also wish to pay special tribute to the Transitional Government of Burundi, under the leadership of Presidents Pierre Buyoya and Domitien Ndayizeye, whose perseverance through obstacles, challenges and delays has furthered the cause of Burundian democracy.

The Great Lakes Regional Initiative, the Facilitator and the African Union deserve our admiration and gratitude for their invaluable contribution and their unceasing, concerted efforts over several years, without which the peace process in Burundi would not have made the progress observed so far.  Burundi is fortunate to have such good friends and neighbours, including leaders who have so willingly devoted their time and effort to supporting the peace process.

The United Nations is proud to be playing its part. In June 2004, the Security Council demonstrated its full commitment to the peace process by establishing the United Nations Operation in Burundi (UNOB).  Today's ceremony is a clear indication that the international community's investment is paying off.  In that regard, I wish to thank the donors for their firm commitment to supporting Burundi and to appeal to them for further backing in order to help the country to meet the challenge of consolidating peace.

Through the ballot, Burundians have placed their trust in a new President and created a historic opportunity to end the cycles of violence, promote national reconciliation and build a new, inclusive Burundi in keeping with the principles affirmed in the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi.  After more than 12 years of conflict, the Burundian people yearn for their country to be unified under the banner of democracy, equality, justice and development for all.  Burundians have voted for peace, and they are entitled to live in dignity, free from violence and intimidation.

As the Government and the people of Burundi face these challenges, the United Nations and the international community will remain their close partners.  The coming months and years will no doubt be difficult, but you will not have to face them alone.  Once again, congratulations for this historic achievement.  Long live the women and men of Burundi!  Long live Burundi!

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