Burundi peace process on track but economy needs help Annan says

In a new report to the Security Council on the situation in Burundi – which is trying to recover from a decade of civil strife that left between 250,000 and 300,000 people dead – the Secretary-General says the country’s transitional institutions are working well.But he warns that Burundians must experience an improvement in their living conditions or the budding peace process may be jeopardized. The country’s gross domestic product shrank by 20 per cent between 1990 and this year, farmland is scarce, and rates of HIV/AIDS infection and adult illiteracy are high.”There is a risk that the hopeful signs of peace which have now begun to appear could be lost unless they are accompanied by improvements in the living conditions of the population as a ‘peace dividend,'” he says.Burundi this year saw the peaceful transition of power when Pierre Buyoya stepped down as President on 1 May and was replaced by his Vice-President, Domitien Ndayizeye.More recently, the country’s Transitional Government and its biggest rebel group, le Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD), signed a comprehensive ceasefire agreement.The Secretary-General says the security situation has “considerably improved” since 8 October, when the first Pretoria Protocol on political, defence and security power sharing between the Transitional Government and the CNDD-FDD was signed. “New alliances are being created and the people of Burundi are adjusting themselves to the new situation.”Mr. Annan reiterates his call for another armed rebel group, Parti pour la liberation du people Hutu – Forces nationals de liberation-Agathon Rwasa (PALIPEHUTU-FNL), to begin unconditional ceasefire talks immediately.Noting many challenges lay ahead, including the implementation of the ceasefire accords, he calls on the international community to help fund the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB), a peacekeeping force deployed by the African Union this year.