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MESSAGE TO THE NATION BY HE PIERRE NKURUNZIZA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1ST ANNIVERSARY OF HIS INAUGURATION

1. Let me start by giving thanks to the Almighty God whose Grace and mercy helped us to reach this day in peace and security, the day on which we celebrate the first anniversary consecutive to the 2015 general elections that allowed our country to be led once again by leaders elected through direct universal suffrage. All glory and honour to God, now and forever !

2. It was on 20 August last year, when I was solemnly sworn in to preside over the destiny of our country, Burundi. I promised to the whole nation that I would be for them a worthy and faithful servant. I solemnly pledged to fulfil the mission entrusted to me for the good of everyone, for both the people who voted for me and those who did not.

3. This day therefore reminds us the victory we achieved in the 2015 elections, elections that were free and democratic. This victory is a significant step on our journey to Democracy, and we are grateful to the Almighty God who made it possible and who fulfilled his promise.

4. I therefore congratulate you all, the people of Burundi for this victory in which you partake, and for the tremendous sacrifices you have made to safeguard it. I wish to warmly thank you for the trust you have bestowed me with, may God bless you for that.

5. Allow me to reiterate my thanks to the organizers of the 2015 elections and to you all citizens who participated in them despite many rumours intending to threaten you during that time.

6. I would also like to express deep gratitude to the Defence and Security Forces for giving the best of them to protect democracy that was threatened by those who wanted to bring an end to democracy in order to restore dictatorship, a political system that we thought to be a thing of the past.

7. I thank you because you have cooperated with the Administration and Population. You managed to stop the protests, the insurgency and the killings and you restored peace and security before it was too late. Thus, the elections were well prepared and held in freedom and transparency, and their results were commended by the National and International Community. Indeed, the elections were possible because security was prevailing in the whole country and that you devoted your time and efforts to them.

8. Let me also express my gratitude to the Constitutional Court because its members read the law in keeping with its letter and spirit. They refused to be influenced and to get caught in the trap of the tempting promises of some politicians and foreigners whose only dream was to overthrow democratically elected Institutions the people of Burundi, and consequently plunge Burundi in tears, desolation, killings and exile that always characterized moments of crisis such as in 1961, 1965 and 1993. I thank the Independent National Electoral Commission that made significant sacrifices before, during and after these elections.

9. I once again express my gratitude towards friendly countries and international organizations that remained close to Burundi in these difficult times, and that showed clearly their position. They supported democracy, and to date, they continue to support us. At the same time, I denounce and strongly condemn those who supported those who wanted to plunge the people of Burundi back into the dark times.

10. I thank the journalists who remained faithful to the ethics and professional conduct and continued to broadcast real and reassuring information ; they dared contradicting their colleagues who were spreading information likely to cause panic among the population by saying that the situation was worrying in Burundi.

11. I thank the Servants of God from all religious denominations who prayed for our country during demonstrations and during the election period and who keep praying for us even now. May God fill them with his blessings for this good work they continue to do.

12. I thank all those who proved their patriotism and their attachment to democratic principles. I thank them because they refrained from the divisive approach, and they refused any complicity with those who wanted to use them to fuel conflicts among us, which would result in mutual killings, causing sorrow and tears into the whole country, only for their selfish interests and goals. I thank them because they showed a good example to other citizens, especially the youth.

13. We achieved the victory we are celebrating after the uprisings masterminded by the enemies of democracy. But as you have seen, the situation has improved now, the country is doing very well, peace and security prevail everywhere, citizens are united in their diversity, and we are all working hard for a better tomorrow.

14. This struggle for safeguarding democracy is an everyday project, and many support it. The citizens themselves freely opted for this democracy. So this is a very important day for all the people of Burundi, especially for those committed to democracy and dedicated to the consolidation of the independence of Burundi.

15. We are celebrating this Day at a time when freedom of movement is guaranteed across the country. Citizens are going about their daily businesses peacefully ; tourists travel the country in all directions without any hindrance, some radio stations that had stopped broadcasting have now resumed their activities, more than 100,000 refugees have already returned home, others are preparing to return massively. All returnees easily recover their properties. We should congratulate ourselves because this has not always been the case.

16. We are also celebrating this Day at a time when the dialogue both inside and outside the country has taken a further step. The half-yearly report of the National Commission for Inter-Burundian Dialogue has just been issued. Basically, it reveals that there are a number of points that the population would like to see changed, either in the Constitution and other national laws and we have taken note of them. In addition, the people of Burundi wise to have a country that enjoys democracy and lasting peace, and this would even be recorded in a social agreement, which would make it a priority concern.

17. Our grandfathers used to say, "After you have betrayed your friends, maize ripen" ; and elsewhere they say, "a bad advisor is similar to a poisoner," or, "To someone intending to destroy their compound people shall lend them a pruning knife." There is no new lesson in this for Burundians of ancient times and today, especially when we consider what we endured in terms of tears, misery and misfortunes incurred in the dark years of 1961, 1965, 1969, 1972, 1988, 1991 and 1993. What happened last year, 2015, has nothing to do with what happened during the above mentioned years because unspeakable crimes occurred in those years.

18. From what we hear, over 500,000 people were killed and over a million have been forced into exile during the years of crises. Today, we expect that the truth will be finally known thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), so that we could finally say “never again” in our country Burundi.

19. As Burundi belongs to all of us, I once again call upon all those who have followed a dead-end path so that they come to their senses and change this attitude and to those who fled the country to return to their homeland ; but everyone should come back with the willingness to build. They will be welcomed by their compatriots as well as by the Government of Burundi. I thank those who have already responded to this call who are now showing a good example to others, I thank them a lot.

20. As for politicians, they should prepare the 2020 elections because this is the favourable time, tomorrow will be too late ; let them prepare the elections while preparing their minds to accept the verdict of the polls. Traditionally, there is always a loser between two competing people, but the winner must lead to the satisfaction of all. In Democracy, this is how things have always been ; this is how they are and should always be.

21. If there are people who still do not know this, they should know that the citizens like the institutions they themselves established by means of elections, and therefore anyone who would contradict them under the pretext of his/her political party, ethnicity, region of origin, etc. will always have to fight against the people, and the people will always be the winners.
Let us rather come together to strengthen democracy and love it passionately ; let us consolidate our solidarity and support the institutions and development projects that we chose to put forwards in full freedom and without any coercion from the bad advisors that have always sowed hatred among Burundians just for their selfish interests.

22. I therefore take this opportunity to encourage you, and I want you to be reassured. Indeed :

• In the area of security :

 Security is good throughout the country, peace prevails everywhere. I am pleased with the fact that even in neighbourhoods that were characterized by insurgency and lack of security, the situation has become normal. Many of those who had fled from these neighbourhoods have returned in large numbers, and they normally go about their business today. Yet mind relapse.

 I thank all those who have provided helpful advice, especially parents and friends of those mislead young people. They had been deceived, but now they have rejected drug consumption, looting, murder and destruction of the country. I take this opportunity to once again thank the organizers of work camps and patriotic education for young people during this period of summer holidays, and I thank the young people themselves for their massive participation.

 Within the framework of the four-faceted security synergy including the Security Forces, the Administration, the Justice and the population, the work of strengthening security has reached a satisfactory level. Many troublemakers have been arrested and referred for trial ; they are punished with the aim of discouraging permanently the crime so that people quietly carry on their development activities. Ensuring security is a duty of every citizen, a work of everyday life that requires self- sacrifice and determination as clearly stated by the 2005 Constitution.

 As for the Peacekeeping Missions in other countries, Burundi will continue to respond to appeals by the international community whenever this proves necessary, with dignity and always requesting respect for our sovereignty.

• In the field of economy

 Because of evil plans of the enemies of democracy, the country’s economy has been destabilized. However, as we have peace and security, do not worry, the future is bright.

 I invite you to roll up the sleeves to work hard and increase our production. We need to save our production especially as studies in African countries and the sub-region showed that agricultural production was very low because of climate change.

 The Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR) continues to educate Burundian citizens about the importance of paying taxes and to collect revenues, but we ask them to make more effort to ensure that every tax goes into the State Treasury. We have to cut short with the bad habit of always depending on external aid inasmuch as God gave us enough intelligence and capacity to develop in our country.

 As for civil servants, they should not worry, their salaries will continue to be paid ; but I also ask them to work in compliance with the law and the working hours, so that they may distinguish themselves by their good job. Moreover, based on a recent study conducted by the Government, stringent measures will soon be taken against officials who receive unfair wages and those underperforming, especially in the areas of Education, health, justice, government owned companies, the National Police, the National Army, Commerce, and in the private sector.

• In the area of Good Governance :

 We are implementing programs against corruption and programs for human rights promotion. The perpetrators must be apprehended and punished in accordance with the law. We will severely punish bad managers of public funds and affairs, those practicing illegal trade as well as those who ill-treat honest workers at work.

• In the area of National Solidarity

 The ongoing dialogue and the setting-up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will contribute significantly in strengthening democracy and reconciliation in Burundi. We cannot ignore the importance of community work that helps us to re-establish social bonds and achieve community development stemming from our self-designed projects. The examples I would mention here are primary and secondary schools, universities, healthcare centres, hospitals, playgrounds, youth centres, administrative offices, markets, villages, improved drinking water sources, environment protection, cult houses, bridges, roads, etc.

 Currently, we are conducting an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, both inside and outside the country ; but in both places, this dialogue intends to build a Burundi where democracy and lasting peace prevail, and you know that democracy and peace were seriously undermined from independence times until now.

• In the field of International Cooperation

 We continue to expand the circle of friends, either among countries or international organizations, especially by ensuring respect for international law and the sovereignty of other States. In return, we ask these States and these organizations to respect the sovereignty of our country. As far as we are concerned, we must strengthen our social bonds in a way that we form an unwavering block to safeguard the independence of our country at all times.

• In the areas of Education and Public Health

 The free education program in primary schools and the free health care for children under 5 and mothers giving birth in public hospitals and healthcare centres will continue. The Government will continue the national immunization programs and the fight against malaria, HIV AIDS and other diseases, in collaboration with traditional partners involved in this sector.

23. To achieve sustainable peace and development, we must create an indestructible common front, love our country, and get others to love it ; we must devote ourselves for our country, as we keep repeating in our national anthem : ‘To you Dear Burundi, our hands, hearts and lives are dedicated. May God, who gave you to us, takes care of you forever’.

24. Let us form an indestructible common front, watch over peace and security and commit ourselves to defending and protecting human rights. Let us form an indestructible common front, and monitor the wealth of our country ; fight against mismanagement of public funds, embezzlement, and corruption etc. and thus improve our economy.

25. Let us form an indestructible common front and fight against the enemies of democracy, the terrorists, the evil counsellors and those who still have a divisive vision and who want to take us back into conflicts. Let us form an indestructible common front to maximize the benefits of our Democracy.

26. We have set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I ask the Commission to get to work, especially during this time when the elections are over. We have to know mistakes and our successes of our history so that we can definitively stop conflict-focussed practices of our country, and that we can build a good future for this generation and the generation to come.

27. Let us love our country and love God that gave it to us. He is the God we call : Niyonkuru - He is the Greatest, Niyonzima - He is the Living One. And we know that God never fails. He is the beginning and the end of everything on the earth especially in Burundi where many of us believe and hope in Him.

28. I take this opportunity to announce once again to the people of Burundi and to the international community the beginning of a new era of peace, security and prosperity in Burundi, and I wish to warn anyone who will try to be a hindrance to peace, security and development because, be they Burundian or foreigner, they will face God himself ; curse will come them by surprise, and no one shall be able to help them : God in Heaven is my witness. May God who gave us Burundi takes care of it forever

29. I would also like to inform the people of Burundi and the international community that there is no genocide under preparation in Burundi, and there will never be anything of that. Moreover, we, the people of Burundi, have eyes and ears, we can see and hear. Over the past two years, there have always been people wishing and still wish that this tragedy strikes us. To achieve their ends, they even tried to force events by setting traps against the people of Burundi.

30. I would like to inform these people that God’s eye is watching them, their actions and their plans, and they will fall themselves into the traps that they tend to Burundians. Let us wait and see by tomorrow, God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is my witness.

31. In conclusion, I would once again like to wish the people of Burundi a good Day of August 20, 2016. Celebrate it with the joy and gladness, redouble your efforts in support for the institutions you yourselves have elected without constraint, and in the implementation of programs that move forwards the country and the democracy that you chose and that you love so much.

MAY GOD BLESS BURUNDI AND THE PEOPLE OF BURUNDI
THANK YOU.

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Discours: President et autres

Statement by H.E. M. Ambassador Alain Aimé NYAMITWE, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Burundi

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