On the 20th and 21st April 2016 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, received three written answers to questions he had tabled to Government about peace-building and reconciliation in Burundi. This followed his recent visit to the country.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The UK strongly supports the East African Community-led dialogue; it is crucial to finding a sustainable political solution in Burundi. We welcome their decision to appoint the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, as Facilitator of the Burundi Dialogue.
Our High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam met Mr Mkapa on 11 April. Mr Mkapa appears keen to engage and share analysis on the best way forward. We understand that he met with a Burundi government delegation on 13 April, following initial consultations with the Presidents of Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), intends to meet with Mr Mkapa when he visits Europe in May.
We are also considering, in consultation with like-minded partners and Mr Mkapa, how best we can support the dialogue process both financially and politically, including through the Article 96 process and UN Security Council.
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to build the capacity of women in Burundi to engage in peace-building and reconciliation.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: We are clear that women have an essential role in peace-building and reconciliation in Burundi.
The UK supports Interpeace and the Conflict Alert and Prevention Centre (Interpeace’s Burundian implementing partner) in delivering a peace-building programme, contributing £170,000 in 2015/16. Interpeace’s community peace-building dialogue groups are made up of at least 30 per cent women. The UK is also one of the top four donors to the Global Acceleration Instrument (GAI). GAI was launched at the Women in Peace and Security High Level Review in 2015 and is funding the project ‘Women for Peace and Dialogue’ in Burundi.
The UK will continue to look for opportunities to promote the active participation of women in peace-building and reconciliation discussions through political and/or financial support. We will also provide support to ensure women’s voices are represented in wider peace processes, negotiations and state building, including at local levels.
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what conversations they have had with the former Commonwealth Secretary-General, General Kamalesh Sharma, about the role Commonwealth countries can play in supporting peace and development in Burundi, and what plans they have to raise that matter with the new Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The UK recognises the important role Commonwealth countries can play in supporting peace and development in all countries, including Burundi. Commonwealth members Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya play a particularly important role in supporting peace and development in Burundi as part of the East African Community-led dialogue with Burundi. In December 2015, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), visited Uganda and Rwanda where he highlighted the deteriorating situation in Burundi and urged regional players to take concrete steps together to find a political solution. The Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Development, my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Nick Hurd), discussed the situation in Burundi with the Tanzanian Foreign Minister on 29 January.
The UK did not have any conversations specifically on peace and development in Burundi with former Commonwealth Secretary-General, General Kamalesh Sharma but we will look for opportunities to discuss Burundi with the new Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon the Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC.