It is widely acknowledged that AWEPA has played a role in every important political moment in Burundi since the mid-1990s. From 1996 to 1998, AWEPA supported the National Assembly’s effort to partner with the Burundi government, which was ultimately successful. This partnership enabled talks with major political actors to take place, which led to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in 2000 and to subsequent ceasefire agreements with armed political movements. AWEPA also supported Burundi’s electoral process in 2005 and 2010. For the past 18 years, AWEPA facilitated the Burundian transnational justice mechanisms. In particular, since 2009, AWEPA has supported the permanent dialogue framework between senators and local councillors.
In 2012, AWEPA’s main objective in Burundi and the surrounding region was to assist in the prevention of pending and the management of past conflicts. In order to pursue these goals, AWEPA sought to strengthen national and local Members of Parliament’s capacity and develop parliamentary diplomacy mechanisms. By organizing more parliamentary days on major national issues, AWEPA enabled exchanges between parliamentarians, members of all Political Parties and leaders of civil society organizations, both of women’s groups and the general population. Important topics such as decentralisation, the permanent dialogue framework of senators and local councillors, the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, political preparation for the 2015 elections and government action monitoring were discussed. As in other programmes, AWEPA aims to offer a platform for dialogue while it also secures the basis of democracy by promoting human rights and contributing to the efforts of reconciliation and peace-building on a national and regional scale.
The following outcomes can be attributed to actions carried out in 2012 as part of the support programme to the Parliament of Burundi:
- Parliament adopted a law acknowledging the status of the political opposition in Burundi, as was announced by the President of the Republic on 14 November 2012;
- a national conference co-organised by AWEPA in Bujumbura in June 2012, assembled the worldwide Burundian diasporas, which are now officially committed to supporting local development; The conference was attended by 140 Burundians from more than 20 countries;
- all senators in Burundi established direct contact with all communal bureaus throughout the country in order to establish good governance, democracy and sustainable development in Burundi;
- contact with neighbouring parliaments increased, strengthening regional cohesion;
- knowledge of decentralisation was improved and skills were transferred from the state to the municipalities, based on the visit of Burundian parliamentarians to Rwanda in September 2012.