Burundi’s President sworn in

Mr Nkurunziza pledged to fight corruption and promote an all-inclusive government in the central African nation.

The 40 year old former Hutu rebel leader took an oath of office for a five-year period under the terms of the country’s power-sharing constitution endorsed in February.

“I pledge to fight all ideology and acts of genocide and exclusion, to
promote and defend the individual and collective rights and freedoms of persons and of the citizen,” swore Nkurunziza.
Speaking in Kinyarwanda — the country’s national language — Nkurunziza said his government would not tolerate corruption, a problem plaguing many African nations.

“Those who are caught taking bribes and plundering public resources will be punished in an exemplary way,” he said.

“Our victory… belongs to all Burundians of all social categories. It is
the victory of a democracy resolved to fight exclusion,” added Nkurunziza.

The swearing in also marked the end of an extended four-year transitional period that ushered in democratic rule in a country struggling from the devastation of a civil war that has claimed the lives of 300,000 people.

He also called on the country’s only active rebel group, National
Liberation Forces (FNL), to “stop fighting and open negotiations with the government so that the country can be peaceful.”

His remarks were echoed by outgoing president Domitien Ndayizeye, who in a symbolic gesture of power transfer, handed his successor the country’s flag and the baton of the army commander.

“We cannot forget that the FNL has not laid down arms,” said Ndayizeye.

“We ask them to immediately return to the negotiating table for their good and the good of Burundians.”

In addition, Nkurunziza vowed to “take all possible measures” against those who failed in their duty to be loyal citizens, especially rapists and thieves.

World leaders hailed the official end of the political transition process started four years ago after the signature of a peace deal in Arusha in Tanzania in 2000.

“I would like to congratulate the people of Burundi and their leaders for the determination that they have shown in carrying out the transitional period to its end,” UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a statement read by the head of UN peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno.

“The people of Burundi voted for peace, they deserve to live in dignity
without violence or intimidation,” he added.