KIGALI - Burundi’s Senate President Gervais Rufyikiri has said that building state organs based on ethnic backgrounds in his country was doing Burundians a disservice.
Speaking to journalists yesterday at Rwandan senate offices in Kacyiru, Rufyikiri, said Burundian senate would soon carry out a study on how to end ethnic representation in public institutions since it limits Burundians from achieving total peace and economic development.
A 2000 peace agreement between Burundian warring parties in Tanzanian town of Arusha came up with a power-sharing arrangement based on ethnic backgrounds as a way of neutralizing and eventually ending ethnic tensions between the neighbouring country’s Tutsis and Hutus.
Rufyikiri said that the political formula catered for all the ethnic groups (including Twas), but that now it was time to go beyond ethnic politics.
Rénovar Baragengana, a member of Rufyikiri’s entourage – which is on a four-day long official visit to Rwanda – pointed out that the process of unity and reconciliation in Rwanda was a success story and presents a significant lesson to Burundi, which he said still faces a daunting task of going beyond ethnic lines.
Baragengana explained that the ethnic-based power-sharing formula was adopted in the Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement in 2000, where it was resolved that each of the three ethnicities be fairly represented in state positions.
Dr. Vincent Biruta, the President of the Rwandan senate, said that the two senates have a lot in common and they would work closely to share and exchange ideas on matters of bilateral importance.
Meanwhile, the visiting Burundian senators later yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Gacaca jurisdictions secretariat at Kacyiru.
They met with senior Gacaca officials including the Executive Secretary of Gacaca jurisdictions, Domitila Mukantaganzwa, who briefed them on the achievements and challenges facing the courts.
She said that Gacaca jurisdictions helped to unite Rwandans following the 1994 Genocide as suspects volunteered information that has led to recovery of remains of many Genocide victims, who were later accorded decent burial.
However, Mukantaganzwa told the senators about the existence of some challenges including continued existence of genocide ideology among sections of the public and, killings and threats against Gacaca judges, witnesses and Genocide survivors.