30 October 2018

East Africa: Burundi Talks Leave Many Questions

Photo: Le Pays
Riots in Burundi (file photo).

Arusha — More questions than answers lingered as the fifth and last round of Inter-Burundi Dialogue ended here on Monday October 29.

The opposition politicians who attended the five-day talks, which was boycotted by the government, described it as offering some hope for tackling the country's crisis.

But the Facilitator, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, while winding up the discussions, stressed the need to fully engage the Burundi government in equal measure in the process.

The dialogue, he observed, must engage both the government of Burundi and the opposition "to agree on the remaining points of disagreements". The former president said he would convince the Mediator and the East African Community (EAC) leaders to remain seized of the situation in Burundi and engage both sides.

President Yoweri Museveni is the Mediator of Inter-Burundi Dialogue which kicked off in 2015 following a coup attempt and attendant violence which gripped the country.

The bloody 2015/2016 political stalemate also emanated from President Pierre Nkurunziza's extension of tenure which was fiercely opposed by the opposition parties.

Mr Mkapa added that the dialogue that has been going on ever since must prepare Burundi on holding free, fair and credible elections in 2020.

The former Tanzanian head of state said he would submit all reports developed during the process to President Museveni in due course.

These are to include the roadmap developed during the five-day discussions which ended at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge yesterday. Others are Kayanza Roadmap 2013 and Kayanza Roadmap 2018 developed by the registered and locally based political parties in indicated dates.

The other is the Entebbe Roadmap crafted early last month in the Ugandan city of Entebbe by the Burundi politicians in exile.

However, as the talks ended some participants expressed doubts if the dialogue would attain its goals with the hardline position taken by President Nkurunziza's government.

Leonard Nyangoma, the leader of CNDD, was doubtful and called on the EAC leaders to bring the Burundi government to a negotiating table.

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