19 April 2017

East Africa: Only EAC Heads of State Can Solve Burundi Crisis, Says Political Opponent

Burundi politicians believe the summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of state scheduled on 10 May 2017 is an opportunity to boost the inter-Burundian dialogue so that it yields positive results.

During the previous round of the inter-Burundi dialogue held in Arusha from 17 to 20 February 2017, the facilitator in the Burundian conflict, Former Tanzanian President William Benjamin Mkapa, announced he would convene an extraordinary summit of East African Community (EAC) Heads of state to present to them the obstacles which are hampering the peace process in Burundi.

Tatien Sibomana, a member of UPRONA political party, says only EAC Heads of state are able to find a peaceful solution to the current Burundi crisis. "They must take appropriate measures to compel Burundi Government, the ruling CNDD-FDD and the acolyte parties to engage in an inclusive dialogue", he says. For this member of the opposition party, this summit will be an opportunity to prevent Pierre Nkurunziza from accelerating his process of changing the Constitution of Burundi. "Pierre Nkurunziza is at the consultation stage to appoint the commission in charge of amending this constitution," he says. For Sibomana, the revision of the constitution aims to cancel the Arusha Peace Agreement from which the Burundian Constitution resulted. In the fourth round of the inter-Burundian dialogue held in Arusha, Facilitator William Mkapa said the current situation in Burundi is not propitious to amend the Constitution.

Sibomana calls on EAC Heads of state to reaffirm their commitment to set the deadline of June 2017 to sign an agreement resulting from this inter-Burundi dialogue as announced by the facilitator in December 2016 during his visit to Burundi. "At the end of this summit, we would like to meet this deadline in June in order to put an end to the sufferings of the Burundian people", he announced.

Sibomana is convinced that if Heads of state put pressure on the Government of Bujumbura and support the mediation process, the solution to the Burundian crisis will soon be found. "If they agree on the means of pressure on Burundi, Burundi will not be able to remain isolated; especially that it depends on the cross-border trade that passes through Tanzania.

If these countries impose an embargo against Burundi, President Nkurunziza will agree to talk with his opposition. He will not have any other choice," he says.

Sibomana recommends the Heads of state of the EAC to not consider the Government of Burundi and the ruling party as a privileged party of the dialogue any more. "We have the impression that the mediation team gives more consideration to the state institutions and the CNDD-FDD party which is responsible for the Burundian crisis," he says. This political opponent says both conflicting parties are equal in the negotiations process.

Jérémie Minani, Communication officer within the principal opposition coalition CNARED, EAC Heads should take concrete actions to restore peace in Burundi. "If they fail to convince Pierre Nkurunziza to accept dialogue, armed groups will resort to the use of force," he says.

Heads of State must deal with the conflict Burundi and Rwanda

According to Abdul-Kassim, Chairman of UPD-Zigamibanga political party, the EAC Heads of state should deal with the political tension between Burundi and Rwanda. "Countries of the same community must have a good relationship", he says. Kassim asks them to support the mediation team for the dialogue to succeed. "The dialogue should end as soon as possible so that it does not block the 2020 elections process," Kassim says.

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