Burundi: dialogue hits a snag as govt says it will not attend

The Burundian military has been accused of carrying out arbitrary killings

The Burundian military has been accused of carrying out arbitrary killings

The political talks between warring parties in Burundi have hit a dead end yet again as the government in Bujumbura says it will not send a delegation to Arusha, Tanzania, where the dialogue was due to reopen Wednesday January 6.

The on-and-off political deliberations have been unofficially and indefinitely postponed. Uganda, the facilitating country and President Yoweri Museveni have not formally commented on the status of the talks, or communicated the future date on which the talks would resume.

According to AFP,  Willy Nyamitwe, Presidential Communication Advisor in Burundi revealed the government was not planning to attend and both the government side and the opposition have indicated there’s no agreement on the scheduling of the resumption of the stalled talks.

The development follows last week’s sharp disagreement between players in Entebbe, Uganda, where stakeholders met courtesy of President Museveni’s invitation.

At the December 28, 2015 talks, the government side made clear it was not ready to negotiate with the elements that took part in the last year’s failed coup whereas opposition called for the annulment of last year’s presidential election in Burundi and the rescheduling of a fresh poll These particular items are so contentious and many observers say it will be very hard or impossible for the parties in the conflict to reach a compromise.

President Museveni advised both sides to try and resolve their differences peaceful for the sake of their country.

“I really appeal to you, the two sides, to sit down and have a political solution so that you save the people from the suffering,” Museveni said adding “you have no excuse not to sit down and quickly resolve… these are clear things, you can meet one afternoon and agree.”

Meanwhile, the former Minister of Defence in Burundi, General Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other co-accused have pleaded guilty to participating in last year’s failed coup. The defendants appeared in a provincial court in Gitega, where over two dozen security officials were facing trial over their role in the coup attempt.

“I could not remain with my arms crossed while the police were killing the population, while President Pierre Nkurunziza was playing football and while the troops… appeared indifferent,” Gen. Ndayirukiye reportedly told court.

Last May’s failed coup almost deposed President Pierre Nkurunziza as he attended talks on the Burundian crisis in neighbouring Tanzania.

The 8-month turmoil that was ignited by President Nkurunziza’s decision to pursue the third term bid has thus far claimed over 400 lives and forced more than 220, 000 out of their homes and country.

In the wake of the recent escalation in the deadly violence, the African Union has resolved to send 5000 peacekeeping troops to Burundi but the government and the population have voiced strong opposition and condemnation of the move.

President Nkurunziza has threatened to attack them if they are deployed without the government’s consent.