The Burundi government has said failed May coup plotters should not be allowed to participate in talks aimed at ending months of violence.
The negotiations resumed at Entebbe State House in Uganda Monday mediated by President Yoweri Museveni.
The first meeting to draw the agenda for the peace talks, and attended by four former Burundian presidents – Pierre Buyoya, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, Domitien Ndayizeye and Jean Baptiste Bagaza –, appeared to move towards a rocky path when the Burundi government delegation said the coup plotters should not be involved in the dialogue.
Victor Burikukikiye, the first deputy chairperson of the ruling party CNDD-FDD, told the meeting also attended by opposition members, representatives of regional countries and international agencies that it was “wrong to meet people who participated in the failed coup.”
“Before we start the negotiations, there are things that must be addressed. Those who participated in the coup attempt should not participate,” he said, adding that the talks’ agenda must be agreeable and should reflect recent events in Burundi.
But, President Museveni cautioned the warring parties not give conditions before the negotiations begin.
“Don’t’ squander this chance by putting conditionality. Your people are dying, save them first. If the house is burning, you put off fire first, and investigate the cause after,” Museveni said.
Museveni also promised to send a team to Burundi to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings.
At least 300 have been died in sporadic killings by armed groups and extrajudicial executions by government soldiers with more than 200,000 people having fled the country. Violence was sparked in April by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run for a third term in office, which he later won in a subsequent July election.
President Museveni blamed sectarianism, which he described as “pseudo ideology”, indiscipline of armies, lack of vision by African leaders, and mismanagement of resources as the main causes of conflicts in Africa.
“Burundi had succeeded but along the way, it collapsed. The problem is clear. This pseudo ideology has been a very big problem. It doesn’t represent the interests of the people,” he said.
Alain-Aime Nyamitwe, Burundi’s External Relations and International Cooperation minister, who is heading the government delegation accused neighbouring Rwanda of recruiting refugees to fight the Nkurunziza administration.
“For us to end this the conflict, it’s better we be open and say what the problem is. There has been recruitment of Burundian refugees in Rwanda to destabilise Burundi,” Mr Nyamitwe said.
Rwanda has however denied the claims, with President Paul Kagame last week saying “the accusations that we are recruiting refugees are childish.
“We asked them [Burundi] to carry out investigations and find out who goes where and how,” he said.
READ: Q&A with Paul Kagame
Leonard Nyangoma, the representative of opposition dismissed Mr Nyamitwe’s allegations about Rwanda training rebels saying instead that, “the conflict in Burundi is fundamentally social, political and economic.
“We have a problem of militias, bad governance and insecurity,” Mr Nyangoma said.
The opposition has been accusing Nkurunziza’s government of deploying Imbonerakure, an armed militia allied to the ruling party, to attack the opposition.
Representatives of European Union, US, UN Security Council, UN Secretary General, African Union, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the East African Community attended the meeting at State House Entebbe.
The negotiations will resume on January 6 in Arusha, Tanzania.
Burundi rivals' demands
Deploy an international peacekeeping force
Amend 129 Article of the Constitution to allow political parties with less than 5 per cent to have positions in government
Equal distribution of resources
Disarm and stop the Imbonerakure
End political violence
- No international peacekeeping force
- Coup plotters not to participate in the peace talks
- Investigate role of Rwanda in the conflict
- End of political violence