Media Statement by the facilitator of the Burundi Peace process, the honourable Jacob Zuma, on the Eve of the inauguration of the democratically elected President of the Republic of Burundi
25 August 2005

The moment we have all been working for and waiting for, the ushering in of a new democratic dispensation in Burundi, has finally arrived. During this very emotional and exciting period, those who have walked this long path towards peace and democracy with the Burundian people are filled with ecstasy, and a sense of achievement and great optimism.

The inauguration of the President-elect, Mr Pierre Nkurunziza, tomorrow on Friday, 26 August 2005, is evidence of the determination of the Burundian people to put the painful past behind them, and to begin a new era of democracy, fraternity, peace and stability.

We extend our sincere congratulations to President-elect Nkurunziza and the CNDD-FDD on their election victory. We congratulate all political parties in Burundi as well for making the transitional period a success and for accepting the will of the people in the democratic elections.

We also applaud the transitional Heads of State, His Excellency Domitien Ndayizeye. and Former President Pierre Buyoya for the outstanding manner in which they managed the transitional period, leading us to this triumphant phase.

The real victors in this process are the Burundian people. The signing of the Arusha Agreement in 2000, and the ceasefire and power sharing agreements in 2002 and 2003 were evidence of the determination to move forward, despite numerous obstacles. The successful and peaceful manner in which the referendum for a new Constitution and the elections were held, vindicated our long held view that a solution would be found, and that democracy would return to Burundi. The Burundian population clearly shared this optimism and vision, and did not let Africa or the international community down.

During this moment of triumph and celebration, we must thank all those who assisted us to make this peace process the success it has been.

We extend our deep gratitude to:

* The Great Lakes Regional Initiative on Burundi, chaired by His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda with His Excellency President William Benjamin Mkapa of the United Republic of Tanzania as Deputy Chair. Their unwavering support to the Facilitator at all times ensured the movement forward.

* The African Union (AU) which, through the Burundi Peace Process, introduced a milestone in the continent when Africa established its very first peace mission. The AU has supported the Burundi peace process from inception, and we would have not come this far without steadfast continental support.

* The faith that the international community had in this peace process is commendable and praiseworthy. The United Nations, which listened to our pleas for the establishment of a peacekeeping mission in Burundi, and provided support throughout the process, culminating in the deployment of the peacekeeping mission ONUB, despite the fact that we did not have a 100% ceasefire. We thank also the European Union and other regional institutions that have always provided logistical and political support.

* We are indebted to the founding fathers of this peace process, the late former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania and Former President Nelson Mandela of the Republic of South Africa. They laid a firm foundation, and provided a clear direction on the way forward.

* We are grateful to President Thabo Mbeki and the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa for the deep-seated and very practical commitment to help our sisters and brothers in Burundi to find a solution.

* Most importantly, we are proud and humbled to celebrate the success of a peace process that was in every respect an African solution.

To the international community and Africa as a whole, our message is that it is not over yet. We must continue to support the Burundian people in the very crucial phase they are entering tomorrow, that of reconstruction and development. We are confident that such support will be forthcoming; to ensure that the peace and democracy that has been achieved through sweat and tears in Burundi becomes sustainable and successful.

Lakela Kaunda
Cell: 082 782 2575
Tel: (092) 579 33411

Issued by: The Presidency on behalf of the facilitator
25 August 2005
Source: SAPA