BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, January 8, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In Bujumbura on Wednesday 7 January, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo jointly met with President Nkurunzize and Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation Kavakure, as well as with representatives of civil society and the business community. They also had separate meetings and visits: Didier Reynders met with the Independent National Electoral Commission, political parties and an association of journalists, Alexander De Croo had a meeting with the ministers responsible for priority sectors (health, education, agriculture) and visited projects of the Belgian development cooperation.
At a political level, Belgium stressed the need to strengthen “inclusiveness” and participation in public life, as well as the importance of establishing a strong observation of the 2015 elections before, during and after election day. In his talks with Didier Reynders and Alexander De Croo, President Nkurunzize spoke in favour of an election observation mission. Belgium supports the participation of the European Union in such an observation mission. In this context, the rule of law must prevail and the separation of the judicial and executive powers be respected. Burundi is at a crucial moment and will have choices to make. The international community will have to assess in which measure these choices meet the Arusha Accords, Burundi’s constitution and international law. On cases of violence and human rights violations, Didier Reynders stressed that it is important to base evaluations on specific facts and to conduct criminal investigations, rather than to conclude on general analyses.
These political contacts were also an opportunity to discuss the regional situation, especially the implementation of the framework agreement of Addis Ababa signed in February 2013 by eleven African countries under the auspices of the UN to try to pacify the eastern DRC, plagued by decades of conflict.
Since 2010, with the 2010-2014 Indicative Programme for Cooperation of 200 million euros, the total volume of Belgian aid has increased significantly. Belgium is the first international donor to Burundi. Burundi is also the second beneficiary partner of the Belgian development public assistance, and the first in terms of aid per capita. Alexander De Croo emphasized that Belgium contributes 4 million euros to the organization of the elections, of which 2 million have already been disbursed.
The joint visit of the two Belgian Deputy Prime Ministers demonstrates the integration of socio-economic, governance and human rights issues in the foreign policy of Belgium.
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