Statement by Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Mr.Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Burundi
We thank Special Envoy Michel Kafando for his briefing on the evolving situation in Burundi.
We listened with grateful interest to the report by Ambassador Jürg Lauber of Sweden, in his capacity as Chair of the Burundi country configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), following his trip to Bujumbura and other countries of the region.
We commend the configuration’s balanced approach, which has enabled it to remain a valuable channel for dialogue with Bujumbura, and we support the PBC’s efforts to revitalize its interaction with the Burundians by focusing on issues related to socioeconomic development and the re-establishment of donor confidence.
We believe that overall, Burundi’s internal political processes are trending towards stabilization. With regard to the country’s political situation, we want to point out that on 17 May it held a peaceful, constitutional referendum. In response to the criticism of that event from the opposition and a number of Western States, the voter turnout was a staggering — indeed unprecedented for an African country — total of 96.24 per cent, of which an overwhelming majority of 73.26 per cent also voted for constitutional change.
We also understand that it was preceded by a democratic and transparent publicity campaign. In the view of the Russian Federation, the issue of the presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 2020 is Burundi’s internal affair. We call on the authorities and the opposition to refrain from negative rhetoric and to concentrate on preparing for the election cycle, especially since President Nkurunziza has announced that he will not be participating in the presidential race.
With regard to the problems in advancing the inter-Burundian dialogue, we want to point out that ascribing responsibility for it to one side alone is counterproductive and even dangerous. Rather than shielding the intransigent opposition, it would behove the Secretariat and a number of our Western colleagues to urge all the Burundian parties to work to resume a full-scale negotiation process, which could lead to the achievement of sustainable peace and stability in Burundi, as soon as possible. In the light of the intention of former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania to consider rethinking his role in the mediation process, we would like to note that this does not cancel our commitment to the principle of African solutions to African problems.
We call on the African community to continue its active mediation efforts aimed at facilitating constructive negotiations between the parties. The fact that the process of the return of refugees from neighbouring countries to Burundi has begun is evidence of the gradual improvement in the country’s situation. At the same time, the humanitarian situation in Burundi remains problematic.
It is regrettable that the humanitarian appeal for support to the country has not been fully funded. We urge donor countries to abandon their double standards. We continue to stand firmly for the principles of humanism, neutrality and impartiality in United Nations efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance with the consent of the host country. We have taken note of the information in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2018/1028) on the alleged major human rights violations in Burundi.
We should point out, however, that the information in the September report (A/HRC/39/63) of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), from which it is borrowed, is far from unambiguous, and we should therefore draw no specific conclusions from it. It should be sufficient to point out that the OHCHR report is based on data that comes only from representatives of the radical opposition, which has been an unrelenting critic of the Burundian authorities for a number of years and also conducts its activities from outside the country.
That can hardly be considered an impartial source of information. In any case, as we all know, in accordance with the division of labour in the United Nations, human rights issues are dealt with by the Human Rights Council, where Burundi is already the subject of discussion. We want to point out that the entire responsibility for ensuring that human rights are upheld in the territory of Burundi, including by armed and non-State entities, belongs to the Burundian authorities, and needless to say the Security Council should proceed from that understanding in its work. As a matter of principle, we support respect for Burundi’s sovereignty and categorically reject any interference in Bujumbura’s internal affairs.
In general, we would like to emphasize that the information we have heard today is not evidence of the kind of problems in Burundi that would merit keeping the situation there on the Security Council’s agenda. We once again urge our colleagues on the Council to focus on more serious issues. In any case, we certainly do not see the need for quarterly discussions on the situation in Burundi.
In general, we believe that the Council’s ongoing focus on Burundi is becoming counterproductive and is essentially merely a convenient excuse for the unreconcilable opposition to complicate its internal political processes.