Arusha — Retired President, Benjamin William Mkapa, in his capacity as a facilitator in the "Burundi mediation truce" has announced the beginning of a formal dialogue after completion of the earlier consultative talks.
A statement from Mkapa's office indicates that the scheduled session is going to run between the 16th and 18th February 2017, at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) here.
The convening of the session will come after rigorous consultations that the facilitator had made with various stakeholders within and outside the country, where he had identified eight-point as an agenda raised by all the partners.
It was further learnt that they had been agreed upon to be the main sticking points, which he had also reported in the Summit in September 2016. The eight-point agenda, which will form the thrust of the dialogue and subsequent negations, in no particular order of importance, includes security and commitment to end all forms of violence in the landlocked country.
Others are listed as commitment to the Rule of Law and an end to impunity and status of the implementation of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
The list further included strengthening of democratic culture and opening up of political space as well as social and humanitarian issues. It also highlighted implementation of the EAC Summit Decision of July 6th, 2015 on the Formation of the Government of National Unity, impact of the crisis on the Economy and the relationship between Burundi and its neighbours as well as other international partners.
The statement further hinted that in the initial phase of the coming dialogue, which is by and large a political process, the retired President will invite some of the Political Parties and important political actors to whom he will introduce the unpacked Eight-point agenda to determine areas of convergence and divergence.
Other stakeholders like the civil society organisations, religious groups, as well as women and youth will be invited in later sessions for the similar purpose.
It is the expectation of the Facilitator that, in this initial dialogue, inputs from participants will draw up an outline of the would-be agreement to be "continuously refined," until when they will be fully agreed upon by all the stakeholder and be signed as the final agreement hopefully in June, 2017 as he envisions.