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Thursday, 7 September 2000 - Strasbourg

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Burundi

The European Parliament,

-  recalling its earlier resolutions on the situation in Burundi,

-  having regard to the statements by the EU Presidency and the President of the European Commission on 29 August 2000,

-  having regard to the peace accord signed in Arusha,

A.  whereas an internal conflict has been raging in Burundi since 1993, in which more than 200 000 people have been killed and over 800 000 people displaced, the majority of them facing famine and disease,

B.  whereas after protracted negotiations and thanks in particular to the relentless efforts of former South African President Nelson Mandela a peace protocol was finally signed in Arusha on 28 August 2000, which represents a new and important step on the way to national reconciliation,

C.  whereas the peace protocol was brokered by Nelson Mandela, and witnessed by a representative of the EU, a number of regional state leaders, and US President Bill Clinton,

D.  whereas all Hutu delegations present and four Tutsi parties signed the protocol, but other hard-line groups did not,

E.  whereas the accord does not make provision for who will govern the country during the transition period,

F.  whereas a minority still maintains control over state institutions, particularly the army,

G.  committed to the democratic principle of a multi-party system,

H.  deeply deploring the fact that the parties could not agree on the procedure for a ceasefire prior to the signing of the protocol and that the fighting continues in the country, the main victims being innocent civilians,

I.  whereas the peace protocol seeks to establish a fairer share of power between the minority Tutsi and the majority Hutu population,

J.  whereas the peace process and national reconciliation must also be based on justice and on prosecution of those responsible for the ethnic violence,

K.  whereas there can be no lasting peace in Burundi without peace in the Great Lakes region and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

1.  Welcomes the signing of the peace protocol at the Arusha Summit and congratulates President Mandela, the mediation team and the Burundian negotiators for this achievement, which represents an important step forward in the peace process;

2.  Welcomes the announcement of a meeting with a view to signing an eventual ceasefire, which is scheduled for 20 September in Nairobi;

3.  Urges the parties which signed the protocol to commit themselves jointly to the implementation of the provisions agreed and to redouble their efforts to resolve the remaining problems in order to reach a comprehensive peace settlement;

4.  Calls on the parties which refused to sign to review their positions and make the vital compromises;

5.  Calls upon all Burundians to abandon violence, and in particular calls upon the armed groups to suspend hostilities and join the negotiations;

6.  Calls on the neighbouring countries to support the peace process in Burundi by ensuring that their territory is not used in any way to threaten the security of the Burundian people;

7.  Stresses that structural aid to Burundi should resume gradually once the following conditions are met: active engagement of the political parties in the peace process and improvements in human rights and in the security situation;

8.  Calls for the transition period to be administered collectively with responsibilities being shared within a government of national unity;

9.  Calls for free elections to be organised, in accordance with the Arusha agreements;

10.  Welcomes the process of closing the Hutu regroupment camps;

11.  Points out that a free and responsible press can have a major role to play in the process of peace, reconstruction and national reconciliation;

12.  Welcomes the freeing of political prisoners, provided that those who have committed crimes against humanity are held criminally responsible for their actions;

13.  Calls for protection to be organised for civilians who are assisting in the return of refugees and guaranteeing free access to humanitarian aid for the people;

14.  Considers it vital that an army which is representative of the nation as a whole should be phased in;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, President Mandela, the OAU and the governments of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.

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