27 April 2017

East Africa: Call for Defining Role of Parties in Burundi Talks Process

Photo: East African Business Week
Former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa.

Arusha — East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General Liberat Mfumukeko says all parties involved in the Burundi peace process should have a clearly defined role.

He said during his visit to the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) early this week that lasting peace in the troubled country had to prevail, but that would need well-defined responsibilities among the warring parties.

"There is a need for a well-defined framework, which clearly defines the role and responsibilities of all entities involved in the peace process," he said, when he met UNON Director-General Sahle-Work Zewde.

Burundi, a partner state of the EAC, plunged into violence in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to extend his tenure despite stiff opposition from his political adversaries.

Opposition political parties and other groups claimed this was against the Constitution and also contravened the Arusha Peace Accord, 2000, which brought about a semblance of peace to the country.

However, President Nkurunziza went to contest presidency in July 2015, which he won. The polls were boycotted by a number of opposition parties. Thereafter, the country was plunged into bloody protests in the capital Bujumbura, where many lives were lost.

Mr Mfumukeko did not reveal the stage, where mediation talks had reached since they commenced nearly two years ago, but told the UNON boss that some progress had been made in defining the role of the parties involved in reconciliation.

"The draft terms of reference has been developed to this effect and await finalization," he said, noting that the move would make the task of mediators easier in reconciling the warring parties.

Elsewhere the EAC boss has reiterated that the EAC remains an impartial arbiter in the inter-Burundi dialogue, whose mediator and facilitator are Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and retired President Benjamin Mkapa respectively.

"The EAC is prepared to work with all stakeholders in a structured manner to ensure the success of the dialogue and lasting peace in Burundi and East Africa in general," he said in response to the recently reported bias of the EAC in the crisis.

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