Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye on Thursday in a historic inauguration promised openness to the world and diplomatic warming with other countries, while still criticising foreign interference.
“We are a country that has demonstrated to the world that we are jealous of our independence and our freedom. No need to come and ask us to protect our people. I make it my duty and the priority of my mandate,” Ndayishimiye said in the public square at the Ingoma stadium in Gitega.
Raising a symbol of power in hand, the new President also promised to tackle corruption and economic embezzlement in the East African country.
He succeeds Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly last week from Covid-19.
To demonstrate this openness, Ndayishimiye received special envoys from Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and Equatorial Guinea, who delivered messages of congratulations and friendship.
Tanzania was represented by former President Jakaya Kikwete, while Kenya was represented by Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba.
The new leader also called on Burundian political refugees to return to their homeland.
The US state Department congratulated President Ndayishimiye on his inauguration.
“The US. commends the people of Burundi on their continued commitment to a peaceful transfer of power. We welcome the opportunity for future engagement with the new government,” it said in a statement.
During the final CNDD FDD party campaign outside Bujumbura on May 16, Ndayishimiye said he would do everything possible to resolve the causes of conflict that afflict Burundi.
He appealed to the refugees who fled Burundi to return home because the country needed all its sons and daughters to rebuild the shattered economy. He promised to put in place a task force to engage refugees in neighbouring countries, Europe, America and elsewhere to return home.
On his foreign policy, he said that Pan-Africanism, solidarity and the dream to see regional integration become a reality would drive Burundi’s international relations.
He stressed that Burundi will seek a relationship based on “mutual respect, mutual accountability, strategic dialogue and demand-driven support”.
He said Burundi will continue to respect its international obligations and his foreign policy will be aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.