Burundi: govt, opposition resume dialogue

Burundian leaders attending Museveni-mediated talks to end the political crisis this July

Burundian leaders attending Museveni-mediated talks to end the political crisis this July

Following months of reluctance to talk, representatives of main players in the Burundian conflict are in Uganda ahead of the resumption of the stalled talks set to begin Monday Dec 28 under the mediation of the Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni.

The development comes amidst growing tension between Bujumbura and the African Union over the latter’s proposal to deploy 5000 troops to Burundi.

“The talks on Burundi will be opening in Entebbe… all the parties including government will be here for the talks,” Uganda’s Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told AFP Sunday.

Two weeks ago, the 8-month took a deadlier turn as 87 dead bodies were discovered in the capital Bujumbura, prompting the African Union Peace and Security to urgently convene and pass a resolution to send troops to the Central African state, the decision however has been strongly rejected by the Burundian government, and ordinary citizens.

Thousands of Burundian citizens took to the streets Saturday to voice their disapproval of the AU proposal, and support of the Burundian security forces and leaders.

Now that the government, opposition and civil society are headed back to the negotiating table, many are hoping they put the interests of the country first and reach a deal that  would end the catastrophic turmoil.

“I really think these leaders take heed of regional and international community’s calls and genuine commit to ending the bloodshed,” one Innocent Ngendakumana told Afrika Reporter.

The resumption of talks under Museveni’s facilitation has been long overdue, there has been no breakthrough on the dialogue front since July, when the Ugandan leader was appointed by the East Africa Heads of State Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Museveni has travelled to Burundi once and met with the warring parties and encouraged them to unite and develop their country but the conflict has worsened since he left Bujumbura.

The Ugandan leader has also drawn criticism for putting Burundi on back burner as he focuses on his reelection campaign but the authorities in Kampala have denied he has neglected Burundi.

“Based on these briefs (by advisors), if he (Museveni) evaluated the situation in Burundi as degenerating into genocide, he would not hesitate to deploy the Uganda People’s Defence Forces,” Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda’s State Minister in the Foreign Affairs Ministry told the Nairobi-based The East African earlier this month adding Burundi should not be a concern of just the Ugandan leader.

Before Museveni took over facilitation, the Burundian government, and opposition had each reject UN-appointed mediators citing contempt of national sovereignty and government bias respectively.