- Today, the mandate of Burundi's transitional government officially ended and elections should have been arranged. A regional group of peace facilitating neighbours however met today to extend the government's mandate until "credible election" can be held. The UN today expressed confidence in Burundi's transition process "despite recurring delays."
Delays started already last year. A referendum on the constitution was postponed from November to February, delaying the whole process which had been scheduled to culminate with the indirect election of the President by the Bujumbura Parliament on 22 April - today. But not even the parliament has been elected yet.
The guarantors of the Burundian peace process, the so-called "Regional Initiative", have met to extend the transitional government's mandate, which was to have ended today. It also has discussed what mechanism should replace Burundi's Implementation Monitoring Committee, whose mandate would expire, along with other transitional institutions when the new government was elected.
According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, however, there is no big reason for concern despite the delays. "Thanks to your courageous efforts, the peace process in [Burundi] is approaching what we hope will be its final stages, despite recurring delays," Mr Annan said in a message to the summit meeting of the Regional Initiative on Burundi.
Hailing the efforts of the Regional Initiative to foster peace in Burundi, Mr Annan further called on Burundi's leaders "to take that last step towards meeting the aspirations of the Burundian people, who deserve nothing less than a democratically elected government, committed to peace, stability and development."
The UN, which operates a peacekeeping mission in Burundi (ONUB), was confident in the transition process despite the delays. As long as the Burundian parties continued to show political will, the UN would continue to support the electoral process. Mr Annan said he was confident that "a credible electoral exercise can be completed within the short time remaining."
On 1 March, Burundians approved of a new constitution in a general referendum. More than 90 percent of the voters had cast a "yes" ballot, agreeing to a new power-sharing model between Burundi's Hutu and Tutsi groups. The next step in the transition process is a parliamentary election.
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