The Rt. Rev. Pie Ntukamazina, Bishop of Bujumbura, joined other religious leaders in praying for Peter Nkurunziza, Burundi's new President, at the beginning of the investiture ceremony on 26th August 2005.
The investiture brought to an end 46 months of transitional government, and marked the culmination of the process that elected former rebel leader, Peter Nkurunziza, to power.
The ceremony was attended by Heads of State from neighbouring countries and the region, as well as delegations from around the world. They spoke of the day's events as a sign of hope for the region, and promised support for the new administration. There were calls for the PALIPEHUTU-FNL rebel group to join the peace process.
The outgoing President, Domitien Ndayizeye, first congratulated the new President. He then summarised the achievements and problems of the transitional period, and recalled the peace accords that had been signed. He thanked all those who had been involved in the fight for peace and democracy in the country. He pointed to signs of hope for Burundi, such as the 90% debt cancellation that would help towards economic recovery, and the inclusive army that is now operating and ensuring peace and security.
After taking the oath and receiving various symbols of power from his predecessor, the new President delivered his inaugural speech. He promised to work for unity and peace, and called on the PALIPEHUTU-FNL to negotiate with the new administration. He vowed to fight against genocide and exclusion, corruption and human rights violations. He encouraged the members of Parliament to be in touch with, and listen to, the population.
He stressed the importance of development, and the need to support vulnerable people, such as orphans and victims of the war. He said that the government would cooperate with other countries in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS. He expressed gratitude to former leaders for their pursuit of peace, and thanked the international community for its support. He announced that, from the start of the academic year, elementary education would be free, as pledged in the election campaign. He called on religious leaders to support him and his government in prayer.
Among the many challenges facing the new President are those of justice, reconciliation, and reconstruction of a country torn apart by 12 years of civil war. It is worth remembering that, at a news conference held when he first took up office with the transitional government, he said, "We take this opportunity to ask forgiveness from the people of Burundi for all the harm we have done to them because of a war that was forced on us". He added, "For our part, we forgive those who imposed this war on us".
Pray that, throughout the years of his Presidency, he will seek God's guidance in all things and act as God requires -
"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" -- Micah 6 v 8
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