The facilitator, Benjamin Mkapa adopted a critical attitude at the summit of the Heads of State of the sub-region. He qualified Burundian government as "a bad pupil" of the dialogue process.
The former Tanzanian President firmly invited the summit to put pressure on the Burundian government to engage in the dialogue to get out of the crisis.
The inter˗Burundian dialogue is deadlocked, according to him: The Government is reluctant to engage in a dialogue with its opponents. It chooses the stakeholders that are close to it."The government must understand that reconciliation occurs between too opposing camps", Mkapa said.
The facilitator also reminded the obstacles of the smooth running of the ongoing dialogue. He gave an example of the process intended to amend the constitution. He also mentioned the report of the National Commission for Inter-Burundian Dialogue (CNDI) and the decree appointing the commission to propose the dispositions which could be amended. "Where is going the meditation at the head of which I am as a facilitator?"Mkapa wonders. He says he is afraid the region will find itself in front of a fait accompli." In this regard, I need very clear guidelines on how to move forward".
The opposition in exile is referred to as a good pupil in the dialogue process. It has assured the facilitator that it is ready to continue the negotiations with the government until an agreement is signed.
Mkapa has mentioned a concession of the opposition: The third term is no longer a problem if President Pierre Nkurunziza decides not to participate in the general elections of 2020. His party has to give another presidential candidate.
Suggestions for a way out of the crisis
The government was therefore required by the facilitation to take some measures to engage in the inter˗Burundian dialogue and negotiate in good faith. "Despite numerous declarations of his engagement, his actions have invariably shown the opposite," he deplored.
The facilitator also pleaded for the cancellation of warrants sent to people who are pursued by Burundi Justice especially those who seem not to have directly participated in the failed coup attempt. He also asked Burundi Government to release political prisoners. He indicated that he had received complaints indicating a lack of authorization to the opposition parties to carry out their activities and to exhort the government to create a favorable atmosphere in order to do their activities safely." If the measures are taken, the government of Burundi will have demonstrated its willingness to engage in a process that would end the crisis that has rocked the country since 2015."
In his speech, Mkapa has also talked about the integration of armed groups in the inter˗Burundian dialogue.
Acccording to him, the facilitation has been informed of several messages from armed groups. They indicate that they are ready to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis that Burundi is currently facing. "Obviously, their exclusion will lead to a permanent threat to the security of the country," he warned.
Gaston Sindimwo: No one can impose injunctions on Burundi
Without ignoring the report of the facilitator, the Vice President of the Republic of Burundi has indicated that Burundi will never negotiate with coup plotters. Gaston Sindimwo declares that there are no political prisoners in Burundi. Though he is pleased about the dialogue led by the facilitation team, he pleads for the bringing back of the dialogue in the country. He also warns anyone who will be an obstacle to the modification of the constitution. He says this is the nation's role. "Burundi receives no injunctions from anyone", he says.
Charles Nditije:" Mkapa has signed an admission of failure"
The president of the coalition in exile CNARED indicates that the facilitator recognized that the dialogue is deadlocked. According to him, Mkapa has signed an admission of failure which is reinforced by the fact that he was not supported by the presidents of the East African Community. They hastened to support the government and ask for the lifting of sanctions by the EU. Faced with that failure, nothing else should be done except to turn to other authorities such as the African Union and UN.
Vital Nshimirimana: Mkapa is giving time to Nkurunziza
For Vital Nshimirimana, the civil society activist, the approach adopted by the facilitation in Burundian conflict reveals a number of inadequacies. He says it has been difficult for the facilitator to identify the real protagonists and the nature of the conflict.
"Denouncing the root of the crisis which is the third term of Nkurunziza is the greatest challenge of the facilitation", the reason why, after one year of mediation, he has not been able to unite both sides in order to discuss openly. Mkapa is giving time to Nkurunziza", Nshimirimana says.
Sylvestre Ntibantunganya: "Finally, the ball is in Burundians' court"
The former President of Burundi indicates that the decision is finally for Burundians themselves to find solution to the crisis. Partners and friends will come just to help them in the process. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya says when the crisis occurs, concessions on the initial positions have to be made by all the protagonists to make the situation progress.
Analysis: A dialogue of the deaf
"Where is going the EAC led mediation of which I am a facilitator?", said helplessly the facilitator in Burundian conflict at the summit of the EAC Heads of State. That sentence shatters the hope that remained in that mediation. He asks the optimists to keep hoping. The former Tanzanian president, however, produced a report with many suggestions meant to end the crisis Burundi is currently going through. He called on everyone to assume their own responsibility.
While being accused of supporting the government in place, the facilitator accuses the very government of hampering the dialogue process by refusing to hold talks with its real opponents. Mkapa goes too far. He suggests the possibility to associate armed groups in the dialogue. Those suggestions have completely been contradicted by the EAC president's statement. Instead of expressing himself about the process, the president of Ouganda made a surprising choice: supporting the government against EU. He ignored the dialogue; leaving Burundians anxious and uncertain about their future. Let us say that during a whole year, there has in fact been a dialogue of the death. The government is optimizing the situation of the country while the opposition is lamenting that everything goes wrong. The mediation/facilitation is lukewarm, thus, causing the dialogue process to miss the necessary coherence to help Burundi to overcome the crisis.