Burundi: ICGLR calls for dialogue to stem routine deadly violence

Victims of Tuesday's grenade explosions and gunfire in Ngagara neighbourhood, North of Bujumbura

Victims of Tuesday’s grenade explosions and gunfire in Ngagara neighbourhood, North of Bujumbura

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), is yet again urging leaders in Burundi to resume talks in an effort to end the violence that has plagued the East African nation since April.

In the wake of deadly shooting and grenade attacks that killed nearly 10 people in the capital Bujumbura on Tuesday, ICGLR issued a statement Wednesday saying it is deep concerned about the deteriorating security situation and the increase in acts of violence, which pose a serious threat to peace and stability in Burundi as well as the region as a whole.

“The ICGLR appeals to all Burundian stakeholders to exercise utmost restraint and refrain from all acts and statements which are likely to further exacerbate the situation, but rather preserve the gains made by the country so far,” the release reads in part.

ICGLR reiterates its continued cooperation with the mediation process led by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and urges all the Burundian players to resume the political dialogue.

Although the regional body advocates for the resumption of talks under the facilitation of the Ugandan leader, the government and the ruling party CNDD-FDD have said they intend to organize talks but without foreign mediation.

ICGLR has however indicated any initiative aiming at finding a durable solution to the crisis is most welcome.
Speaking to Afrika Reporter, Macdonald Mwakasendile, Head of Communication Program at ICGLR, said inter-Burundian dialogue as advanced by the Government and the ruling CNDD-FDD party is also a positive initiative, but still insisting on the need of a third party.

“Any internal arrangement which leads to stability and security is welcome, but at the regional level we still have this mechanism through the process of mediation by the Ugandan President, which is still standing. Until now there hasn’t been any sitting asking President Museveni to stop the mediation process,” Mr. Mwakasendile said.

“We believe that any negotiation or any mediation process needs someone out of the crisis to mediate people. As long as there are some parties which have different feelings towards inter-Burundian dialogue, we believe our mediation will bring in all stakeholders,” he added.

Mr Mwakasendile urges all Burundians to understand that the problems are theirs and that if they show no will, no one will come to solve them.

“These are Burundian problems themselves and Burundians themselves can solve them. There is no foreigner who will resolve these issues them,” he insisted.

Burundi is still struggling with the deadly violence that resulted from poplar protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term.

Talks between the government and opposition and civil society have thus far been unsuccessful due to disagreements on mediators.

In June, the opposition and civil society rejected UN Envoy Said Djinnit accusing him of favouring the government. In turn, the government orchestrated the withdrawal Djinnit’s successor Abddoulaye Bathily, claiming he was disrespectful of Burundi’s authorities.

The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, was then appointed by the East African Community heads of State Summit in Dar es Salaam, but Museveni has not been able to make headway in the talks. His Envoy, the Defense Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, suspended the talks on the eve of the July 21 election.