Firstly, let me join the other speakers in congratulating you on the assumption of the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi Configuration.
Norway fully supports the recommendations presented at today’s meeting in support of peacebuilding in Burundi.
Norway welcomes the progress made by the Government of Burundi and the FNL in further deepening the peace process since the last biannual review. It is encouraging that a significant number of former FNL combatants have been disarmed and demobilised. Norway is pleased that the FNL has been accredited as a political party and that it has assumed prominent positions in the public administration . We trust that the process of integrating the FNL into national institutions will be concluded shortly.
Norway commends steps already taken to prepare for the elections, not least the appointment of the National Independent Electoral Commission. This commission is crucial for safeguarding that the election process remains free, fair and peaceful and we trust that there will be no further delays in making it fully operational. Such an inclusive and transparent electoral process is of utmost importance to consolidate and enhance the progress made in the peace process.
At the same time, Norway recognises the role of the Government in ensuring that all parties operate under conducive conditions, including freedom of assembly, irrespective of whether the political party is newly established or not, freedom of political debate and freedom of the press. We expect that the Government increases its efforts to ensure that these conditions are met.
Norway welcomes the strengthened mechanisms for dialogue between the Government and civil society in finding common solutions to the challenges in the preparation for the elections. Norway will support the process through various channels and we are looking forward to hearing more details on the UNDP’s “basket fund” for support to the electoral process.
For long term development and stability, it is paramount that fight against corruption is continued. In this regard, Norway expects that the Government of Burundi take further action by expediting the settlement of cases currently before the courts and by supporting and strengthening governmental and non-governmental organisations which fight against corruption. We were highly concerned by the murder of Erneste Manirumwa, the vice-chairman of the anti-corruption agency OLUCOME, and trust that all efforts are made for the successful conclusion of the investigation.
We expect the police to take decisive action against perpetrators of violent acts against women and albinos. Furthermore, we trust that appropriate action is taken to stop the arrests on insufficient grounds, particularly of journalists and politicians. We would also like to share the concerns of the previous statements with regards to the abolition of the criminalisation of same sex relations in the penal code.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, Norway would like to stress the importance of including women in the peacebuilding process. It is important to recognise the particular vulnerability of women in conflict and their need to play a central role in decision-making institutions. Norway will continue to support projects to enhance gender mainstreaming in the peacebuilding process and in combating violence against women.
Norway remains continued and active support for peacebuilding in Burundi, both bilaterally and through multilateral channels.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.