Burundi CSOs demand change of mediator, talks’ venue

Protestors saying good to one of their own yet still demonstrating

Protestors saying good to one of their own yet still demonstrating

The Burundian civil society is urging the UN Secretary General to replace the current mediator, Saïd Djinnit, in talks between organizers of anti-3rd term protests and the government in a bid to end the ongoing turmoil in the country.

In a correspondence to Ban Ki-Moon, the civil society claims that the initiative of the dialogue has not yet borne any results because the mediator has not respected the elementary aspects for a successful dialogue during a conflict.

According to the civil society, President Nkurunziza’s will to bid for the controversial 3rd term has remained untouched yet it’s the core source of the current crisis.

“Consultations led by the special representative of the UN Secretary General in the Great Lakes region, Mr. Said Djinnit, prove that the dialogue has lacked a clear agenda, since they have been limited to discussing the consequences of the repression of protesters, without touching the question which pushed people to protest against the violation of the founding texts of actual institutions, that is, the third term,” reads the correspondence.

The civil society accuses the current mediator of failing to resolve the procedural questions, notably the release of hundreds of protesters who are in custody, cancelation of arrest warrants against the anti-3rd term movement leaders so as to allow them to participate in the talks, reopening of media outlets, and ensuring the police cease using live fire against protesters.

The civil society says it is open to any initiative for dialogue but which respects the basics of good mediation; namely impartiality, neutrality, and objectivity.   “Since the mediator must be someone who inspires confidence in all the parties in the conflict, from the moment that some opposition groups have already openly stated their opposition to the mediation of Mr. Said Djinnit, we believe that it would be wiser to appoint another mediator who inspires confidence in all the parties,” adds the letter to the UN Secretary General.

Fearing for their security as dozens are in exile, some opposition and civil society leaders say they cannot participate in the talks.

They claim that currently, there cannot be frank and sincere talks inside Burundi, calling for organizing a dialogue on a neutral territory in a foreign country where security is guaranteed for all parties taking part in dialogue.

Meanwhile, protesters have maintained their resolve to march until President Nkurunziza withdraws his candidacy, whereas police is determined to stop them by all means necessary.

Protestors saying good bye to one Theogene Sindiyinko

Protestors saying good bye to one Théogène Niyondiko

Today, against police force, hundreds of protesters gathered in Ngagara, north Bujumbura, to take part in the funeral of Théogène Niyondiko, a university student shot dead on Friday last week as he was protesting in Musaga, South Bujumbura.