Everest Nadaishimiye declared, “Apart from the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic, the only enemy remains for citizens, which is common to all of us,” poverty.
The head of state was speaking at the UN General Assembly on the third day of a high-level General Assembly week. After virtually being held last year, this year’s gathering includes “hybrid” activities that involve leaders in person with virtual participants.
The Burundian leader noted that his country celebrated six decades of independence in 2021 and membership of the United Nations.
“Therefore, it is a moment to remember that the United Nations played a major role because since the end of World War I, Burundi has been governed by the League of Nations and then under the auspices of the United Nations,” he said.
A moment of hope
Pointing to A Presidency of Hope, the subject of this year’s debate, he said it had special meaning for Burundians.
“Not only the devastating effects of the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic, but also the consequences of this recurring crisis that has occurred in the country with complete impunity,” he explained.
To overcome these problems, he said, his government has identified a number of priorities in the Burundi National Development Plan, PND 2018-2027. He described the initiative as “an ambitious and transformative program that could accelerate the process of socio-economic development.”
On the issue of good governance and social justice, he said, “Fighting corruption, economic embezzlement and impunity is one of the government’s priorities.”
Turning to peace and security, he said it was “undeniable” that the international community had had some success against terrorism, but that it must be acknowledged that “a far-reaching, adequate and effective strategy to eradicate this scourge is far away.”
“Apart from the necessary military action, the effective fight against terrorism includes the fight against fundamentalism, which is rooted in ignorance, poverty, youth unemployment and illiteracy,” he said.
He added that his government was concerned about the spread of terrorism in the region, including the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where extremist groups recruit “unemployed youth who blindly kill peaceful and innocent civilians.”
“I am convinced that these groups are a threat not just to our region, but to humanity as a whole,” he said.
It is in this context that, since 2007, Burundi has provided military and police forces to the United Nations and the African Union, he said. These officials continue to work in countries such as Somalia and the Central African Republic.
Human rights issues
Mr Ndayishimiye also made a note of the work of the UN Human Rights Council, saying that “any tendency to link Burundi to a special human rights system is simply unfavorable.”
“In reality, the government has focused on the protection of human rights, respect for democratic principles, opinions, freedom of expression and the media,” he guaranteed. “Many efforts have been made to establish an almost lasting dialogue between political parties, the media and government authorities.”
He also mentioned that his country welcomes refugees and Burundians who return to their country. He explained that since July 2020, more than 5,000,000 refugees have returned voluntarily, and more than 50,000 have returned without going through a specialized UN agency.
“With the restoration of peace and security, Burundian refugees, including political actors, are returning irresistibly and being welcomed with love and dignity,” he assured.
Finally, he welcomed the “historic decision” of the Security Council and the African Union Council for Peace and Security to remove Burundi from their political agenda in recognition of the return of peace.
The full statement in French is here.