Ottawa, Montréal and Québec: conference about the peace process in Burundi
Burundi has gone through several cycles of instability and violence since its independence on July 1st, 1962. After violent ethnic killings in August 1988 in the communes of Ntega and Marangara, the country adopted, under the initiative of President Buyoya, a policy of "national unity" that constituted a clear break with the exclusion and ethnic discrimination that had marked the previous years. Despite the return of multipartism and the holding of peaceful elections in June 1993, the democratization process stopped when the army seized power in a bloody coup in October. In 1996, Buyoya returned to power and peace talks began in Arusha, Tanzania. In June 1998, the main opposition party, FRODEBU, initiated discussions with the government.
- to involve the diaspora in the peace process both internally and externally;
- to highlight the recommendations of the diaspora and forward them to Arusha;
- inform Burundian nationals who are in Canada on the national approach towards peace in Burundi;
- inform Canadians on the initiative of the peace process in Burundi;
- keep informed Canadian officials and Canadian partners of Burundi on the evolution of the crisis in Burundi and the prospects for peace.
This event brought together several participants from Canada and Burundi. A series of meetings in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec have allowed exchanges between representatives of the Burundian civil society and Canadian. Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CIDA, as well as NGO representatives, were also able to become more familiar with the situation in Burundi. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada, Lloyd Axworthy, also attended the conference, promoting Canada's support in Burundi’s peace process. Ultimately, in the last day, a cultural evening bringing together Canadian and Burundian artists facilitated dialogue and permitted a wider socialization outside of conferences.