Last ditch efforts to avoid Burundi crisis continue

Ugandan President Museveni leaves talks without deal, while efforts to end months of violence continue.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has left crisis talks between Burundi’s rival political factions without a deal, but last-ditch efforts to end months of violence continue. 

Political critics fear for their lives in Burundi

Museveni told reporters before leaving on Wednesday that both sides were looking to end the deadlock ahead of polls next week.

“The ruling party in Burundi and the opposition parties and the civil society have agreed to negoctiate expeditiously, intensively… in order to reach an agreement,” Museveni said.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term in an election next Tuesday, despite a constitutional two-term limit, has sparked months of turmoil and an attempted coup in mid-May.

Previous UN-mediated efforts have collapsed.

Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga took over mediation efforts started by Museveni a day earlier, the latest bid to push stalled talks between Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party and opposition groups.

Museveni, who was appointed mediator last week by the five-nation East African Community (EAC), had earlier urged Burundians “to forget their past sectarian political differences.”

Around 100 people have been killed in more than two months of protests, with over 158,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries, according to the UN.

Everything ‘on table’

Burundi presidential communication advisor Willy Nyamitwe said there had been “positive” talks, while key opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said talks would continue. 

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“There will be no taboo subjects, everything must be put on the table,” Rwasa said.

Opposition groups say another term would violate a peace deal that paved the way to end a dozen years of civil war in 2006. There are fears the current crisis could plunge the country back into civil war.

Parliamentary polls, in which Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD scored a widely-expected landslide win, were held on May 29 but boycotted by the opposition and internationally condemned.

Troops clashed with suspected rebel fighters over the weekend in northern regions bordering Rwanda.

Burundian rebel general Leonard Ngendakumana, who took part in the failed coup in May to topple Nkurunziza, has confirmed that soldiers loyal to the coup plot were involved in the fighting.

Source: AFP