On September 8, 2020, the Ambassador of Burundi accredited in France H.E Ernest NIYOKINDI gave an exclusive interview to TLMD Magazine (TLMD is a network of Journalists and correspondents based all over Africa, Europe and America).
During the interview, Ambassador Ernest NIYOKINDI expressed himself about the many crises that have shaken Burundi, the priorities of H.E the President of the Republic of Burundi and the need for Burundi to open up to the world.
TLMD MAGAZINE wanted to know about the current situation in the country after the investiture of H.E Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE as President of the Republic of Burundi.
Ambassador NIYOKINDI said that with the end of the civil war which lasted more than 10 years and the new leadership established since 2005, Burundi is a country which has regained all its dignity, in which peace and security reign, which is gradually bringing refugees back to the fold, a country that is opening up to the world, which is currently facing the challenges related to its development based on the PND 2018-2027 tool (National Development Plan 2018-2027), to achieve its objectives. He added that it is also a country that has gradually rebuilt itself, relying mainly on its own strengths, through community development work namely: the construction of schools, health centers and public infrastructure, etc.
He said that Burundi is a country whose public authorities have done everything to lighten the burden on the population, one example among others being free basic education and health care for children under 5 years and pregnant women.
Ambassador NIYOKINDI announced that the country has just passed a new electoral process, the 4th in a row since the end of the civil war, which is a first in Burundi and an example for other countries.
He indicated that the electoral process itself was taken in hand, in its organizational and financial aspects by the Burundian people, which testifies to its maturity and, at the same time, proves to the world how much it is jealous of its independence and of its sovereignty.
Asked about what has fundamentally changed or will soon change in Burundi, the Ambassador of Burundi in France indicated that the system of political governance instituted by the new Constitution provides in itself a big change: the new Government structure and a tightened Government with a single coordinator, the Prime Minister, is a step forward in improving the management of public affairs.
He specified that the President of the Republic and the new institutions, unfortunately elected and invested in a context of national mourning, are committed to perpetuating the work and legacy of late President NKURUNZIZA for the well-being of the population who elected them.
He said that the new authorities have just launched a new dynamic aiming to put the well-being of the Burundians at the center of the concerns and of all the actions of the public authorities: the first measures aimed at the good management of public affairs and the fight against embezzlement, the restoration of citizens to their rights and freedoms, the strengthening of dialogue between Burundians, justice for all, the emphasis placed on actions towards youth and the organization of the population in cooperatives are part of this perspective .
What will also change is more openness to the world through diplomatic relations based on mutual respect, Ambassador NIYOKINDI said.
To the question of knowing the priorities and urgencies of the new President, after the famous controversial 3rd term and the crisis that has rocked the country on various levels since 2015, Ambassador NIYOKINDI first remarked that there was not a third term or over terms.
He indicated that the insurrection and the attempted coup of 2015 took place on a pretext intended to mobilize the international community around an alleged violation of the constitution and thus justify the overthrow of elected institutions in 2010. He indicated that the Constitutional Court validated the mandate of President NKURUNZIZA in 2015 and that it was the only one empowered to do so. Burundi has submitted with good grace to an audit by the EAC Court of Justice; the latter ruled in favor of our constitutional court, thus removing any form of legitimacy from this insurrectional movement.
As he said, the 2015 turmoil did damage nonetheless because it tarnished Burundi’s image, provoked sanctions from the international community and caused Burundians to flee their country.
He said that after managing the crisis and bringing peace and security to the country, one of the current priorities is therefore to bring all Burundians back to the fold. The other priority is to improve the image of the country abroad and lift the sanctions unjustly taken against Burundi in the aftermath of this crisis.
The work of good governance and development of Burundi will take a central place during the legislature which begins, he said.
Ambassador Ernest NIYOKINDI also spoke about the state of Burundi’s relations with other countries and relations with France. He said that after the 1st democratic elections in 2005, Burundi has really reconnected with the international community and relations which were at half-mast during the civil war were braced up. Unfortunately, the 2015 crisis brought Burundi back even if many friendly countries have not let go. At present, H.E the President of the Republic intends to open the country more to the world in a relationship of mutual respect and beneficial cooperation to all while respecting the sovereignty of each State. That is to say that overall, relations with all countries will take off again.
He indicated that with France Burundi has very long-standing relations, almost 50 years old; they have suffered from repetitive crises in Burundi but have never been broken. He said France welcomed the development of the situation in Burundi after the recent electoral process.
Asked whether Burundi is keen to restore its image, Ambassador Ernest NIYOKINDI indicated that Burundi should not be ashamed of the way it handled the 2015 crisis because the institutions played their role part and quickly restored peace and security. If the coup was successful, Burundi would be ostracized by the international community when it is not now.
He added that it is paradoxical that the coup attempt having been unanimously condemned by the international community, certain countries welcome and harbor the authors of this dirty work and refuse to execute the international warrants issued by the Burundian justice against them.
He announced that it is those who have been manipulated and who have imposed sanctions on a Government that has only done its duty who should admit their mistake and lift these measures.
Burundi remains ready to cooperate with all States in accordance with the rules of the game laid down by the Cotonou Agreement in this area, he reiterated.
In answering the question of how he sees Burundi in the near future, the Ambassador of Burundi in France has not mince words: Burundi will be a living and dynamic country, a well-governed country, harnessed to development actions, in the permanent search for the well-being of the population, as promised by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi. He ended by specifying that it will be a country which will have resumed its place and its role in the concert of Nations when it will have been rid of the misunderstanding and the unjust and unilateral sanctions taken against it.