Town Hall Meeting
Ambassador Dawn M. Liberi’s Town Hall Remarks
September 9, 2014
Hello everyone and thank you for coming to our second Town Hall meeting of the year. It is a great way to meet other Americans that are living and working here in Burundi and share information that we know is vital to U.S. Citizens overseas, such as the quality of local schools, hospitals, and restaurants. I look forward to meeting regularly with you and to getting to know you all better.
Tonight I'd like to introduce you to several of the Embassy's newest staff members, then share with you my impressions of last month's U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit held in Washington, D.C. In addition, I'll discuss with you how we're preparing for next year's Presidential elections here in Burundi.
We have a number of new employees at the Embassy to introduce. Jim McNaught is our new permanent Deputy Chief of Mission. Jim arrived this past April and had to travel back to Washington recently, but will be stationed in Bujumbura for the coming three years. Molly Runyon is our new Political Officer, who arrived just in time for the 4th of July. She comes to us from Port-au-Prince Haiti. This is her third tour, having also served in Mexico. Finally, Babette McQueen is the Embassy's new Foreign Service Health Practitioner. She is a trained Nurse Practitioner and also joined us in April. This is Babette's first tour with the State Department, although she has many years of nursing experience.
This August, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to Washington, D.C., for a three-day summit. It was the first of its kind and the largest event any U.S. President has ever held with African heads of state and government. Our embassy staff worked hard and closely with the Burundian delegation to make the event a success. President Nkurunziza traveled to Washington D.C. with a delegation of 25 people. The summit advanced our shared interests in increased U.S.-Africa trade and U.S. investment in Africa, and highlighted America's commitment to Africa's security, its democratic development, and its people. Through discussion of tangible actions that can be taken to deepen the U.S.-Africa partnership, the summit fostered stronger ties between the United States and Africa, and the United States and Burundi. In response, President Nkurunziza highlighted the recently established Burundi Youth Employment Agency, which has helped about 250 high school graduates obtain permanent positions or internships within the public and private sectors during the last three years. The Government of Burundi also stated that the Ministry of Youth has helped some 3,700 young Burundians obtain credit for business start-ups during since 2011.
Another important event on the horizon is the upcoming national and local elections, slated for next year. We anticipate the run-up between now and next summer as being an intense period, and we're working closely with other donors as well as CENI, the Commission Electorale Nationale Independente. CENI oversees the electoral process from A to Z and implements the electoral code, to help see that they are free, fair, open and, above all, peaceful. CENI announced the election calendar on July 18th as follows:
- Communal council elections and those of the Deputies of the lower House: May 26;
- Presidential election on June 26;
- Senate elections on July 17;
- Colline council and city ward elections on August 24.
- If a runoff election were required for the presidential election, the second round would take place on July 27.
U.S. Town Hall Meeting: September 9, 2014
United States Citizens gathered at Ambassador Dawn Liberi's residence on the evening of September 9, 2014 for a U.S. citizens' town hall meeting. Ambassador Liberi made remarks, with a focus on U.S. Embassy programs and priorities. The Regional Security Officer made remarks on the local security environment and shared recommendations for personal security precautions. The Consular Section Chief spoke about the consular services that are available to U.S. Citizens. After the meeting, U.S. Embassy staff registered citizens to vote at the American Citizens Services table.