Burundi asks international donors for over $1 billion for development
Burundi's vice president on Monday asked international donors gathered in Geneva for over $1.0 billion to help finance his country's development programmes over the next four years.
On the first day of a two-day donors' conference, Gervais Rufyikiri asked the representatives of numerous governments and several United Nations agencies to consider the "stakes and the opportunities" linked to development projects in the eastern African nation and to loosen their purse-strings.
Burundi, he told reporters, had estimated it needed $2.1 billion (1.6 billion euros) to finance its development programmes aimed at boosting economic growth and fighting poverty between 2012 and 2016.
"The government estimates that it will be able to come up with 48 percent of this amount. For the rest, we're asking for support from different partners," he said, adding that he was "optimistic" that the needed donations would come through.
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza had been scheduled to take part in the donors' conference, but cancelled last Friday.
Rufyikiri told reporters the president had run into "impediments", without offering further explanation, stressing though that more than 10 Burundi government ministers were in Geneva for the conference.
The vice president meanwhile hailed what he called Burundi's advanced democratic standards, stressing the high level of freedom of expression in the country.
A spike in violence in Burundi late last year led many observers to fear the country could slide back into full-blown civil conflict, which ended in a 2006 ceasefire agreement after 13 years of civil war that killed nearly 300,000 people.
Rufyikiri however insisted repeatedly Monday that "war is history in Burundi."
"Burundi has a past, Burundi has a dark past, Burundi has had time to evolve, to take another path ... to join the modernising countries," he said.
He pointed for instance to upcoming elections in 2015, which he insisted would "happen in a multi-party framework."