The East African Community-mediated Inter-Burundi dialogue, scheduled for Wednesday, October 24, seemed to falter after the government and ruling party delegates failed to turn up.
The facilitator, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, was forced to postpone the commencement of the talks to Thursday, October 25, to allow the government side time to attend.
“All stakeholders are here, including some opposition members, but we are yet to see the ruling party members and the government of Burundi so the facilitator decided to give them more time,” an official close to Mr Mkapa told The EastAfrican.
However, Prosper Ntahorwamiye, Burundi government spokesman, insisted that Bujumbura’s demands must be met before they start the talks.
He said the government had demanded the list of participants and the order paper “to make sure no other issues will be discussed other than the roadmap towards the 2020 elections.”
“We requested several things, which the facilitation team didn’t deliver to us and we made it clear that we would not participate in any dialogue that includes those accused of plotting the 2015 failed coup,” Mr Ntahorwamiye told The EastAfrican.
He said the government had suggested, through a letter to the facilitation team, postponement of the talks for a month “since this month we had ceremonies to commemorate our national heroes.”
The 5th session is supposed to be the last round of talks that will mainly focus on the roadmap towards a free and fair 2020 general elections.
Since the regional mediated talks were launched in 2015, the Burundi government has insisted that it will not sit with people who have arrest warrants, a move that has stalled the talks for the past three years.
The mediation team is expected to present a report to the East African Community Heads of State Summit slated for November.