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Burundi peace deal likely next June

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Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa is the facilitator of the Burundi peace talks. PHOTO | SIMON P. OWAKA 

By FRED OLUOCH

Posted  Tuesday, December 13   2016 at  20:53

In Summary

  • The former Tanzanian president last week visited Burundi on a two-day tour and met President Pierre Nkurunziza. Mr Mkapa also met with political parties, diplomats, civil society organisations, women and youth groups, religious leaders and a number of prominent political actors.
  • The government of Burundi has been hesitant to dialogue with the opposition in exile, whom it accuses of organising the April 2015 failed coup.

The Inter-Burundi Dialogue is likely to result in a comprehensive peace agreement in June 2017, the facilitator Benjamin Mkapa has said.

The former Tanzanian president last week visited Burundi on a two-day tour and met President Pierre Nkurunziza. Mr Mkapa also met with political parties, diplomats, civil society organisations, women and youth groups, religious leaders and a number of prominent political actors.

Mr Mkapa emphasised that the current impasse must only be solved by Burundians.

He observed that there is an improvement in the security situation, which all stakeholders should use to ensure that the process is concluded.

Mr Mkapa was, however, concerned that there are still limitations in political space, and called for open deliberations.

Mr Mkapa is working under the chief mediator, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in the EAC-sponsored dialogue, after the country sunk into a political crisis in 2014 in the wake of protests against President Nkurunziza’s third term. The dialogue is meant to include all stakeholders to push for credible elections in 2020.

The government of Burundi has been hesitant to dialogue with the opposition in exile, whom it accuses of organising the April 2015 failed coup.

The government is currently mobilising the MPs with the objective of amending the 2000 Arusha Accord that limits presidential term to two five-year term. But opposition calling itself the Council for the Observance of the Constitution, Human Rights and the Arusha Peace Accord (CNARED), maintains that the Arusha Accord must be respected because it was responsible for restoring peace in Burundi in 2005 after 13 years of civil war.

However, Burundian government has said it will not talk to the opposition.

Mr Mkapa-led team is expected to visit Gitega, which is located in the central part of the country to witness peace building activities being conducted by the National Dialogue Commission (CNDI) that was appointed by President Nkurunziza last year. However, the opposition leaders say that the national dialogue commission is biased and can’t conduct an all-inclusive peace building initiatives.

“We don’t have any conditions but President Nkurunziza’s government is trying to stall the talks and focus more on the internal dialogue as it is a way for him to amend the constitution,” said Jeremiah Minani, communication officer of CNARED an umbrella body of 22 political parties mainly in exile.