Mkapa’s plea to EAC on Burundi peace talks

Saturday September 10 2016

The mediator in the Intra-Burundi Dialogue, former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa wants the East African Community Heads of State Summit to crack the whip on the two sides in the talks to ensure their co-operation.

Mr Mkapa wants the parties to the talks to drop conditions and commit themselves to serious and inclusive dialogue.

“In view of the situation obtaining in Burundi, there is a need for the speedy conclusion of this process, so that the country can move forward,” said Mr Mkapa in a brief to the EAC extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam.

The talks have been suspended at least five times since the effort was initiated last year as the Burundi government insists it will not sit at the table with those opposition leaders it accuses of organising protests and plotting the failed coup last year.

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In his brief, Mr Mkapa also wants the EAC Summit to stop the parties involved from making inflammatory statements and to help in pacifying border tensions.

The former president also wants a sustainable funding mechanism for the peace process.

However, the former head of state cited financing as one of the major challenges facing the facilitator. 

“We have, almost entirely, been depending on the support of the EU and China, and I feel the need for you to consider providing more reliable financial wherewithal now that we are going to the mediation phase. For, apart from the credibility and independence of the facilitation, ownership of the process will revert to the region,” he says.

The EAC said it is committed to providing financial support to the Intra-Burundi Dialogue and a supplementary budget proposal would be considered in November.