Burundi leaders agree to talk, Museveni delegates mediation

Burundian leaders attentive in talks with President Yoweri Museveni

Burundian leaders attentive in the President Yoweri Museveni-facilitated talks in Bujumbura

President Yoweri Museveni has announced talks between Burundi ruling party and its opponents are going to proceed under the facilitation of Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, the Ugandan Defense Minister.

Addressing the press Wednesday afternoon after a two-day long discussion between political stakeholders, President Museveni did not divulge details of negotiations but expressed his satisfaction over the will of both sides to hold talks.

“First, the ruling party and the opposition parties and civil society have all agreed to negotiate intensively, continuously and expeditiously in order to reach an agreement,” Museveni said.

President Museveni has observed that in the past the government extended the election dates to allow negotiations which unfortunately could not succeed due to the problem of agreement upon mediators, who had been repeatedly rejected. “But now, both sides have agreed to expeditiously move ahead so as to make up for the lost time,” he said.

Opposition leaders and the government are satisfied by Museveni’s mediation. Agathon Rwasa, the leader of the coalition Hope for Burundians, says the crisis took a long time because there was practically no dialogue, and that one side [he did not name it] showed no will to participate in the dialogue.

“Now both sides are committed to sit together and talk effective tomorrow in order to find a solution and prevent Burundi from going astray,” Mr. Rwasa said adding “priority should be given to election related issues”

Léonce Ngendakumana, the chairman of an opposition coalition Alliance for Democracy and Change, ADC-Ikibiri, expects the key contentious issues to be adequately discussed.

“Our concerns are already known. They are related to the third term bid of President Nkurunziza, the electoral calendar, and peace and security, especially the disarmament of the Imbonerakure militia and all armed youths. We hope it’s time to discuss them,” Ngendakumana said

Charles Nditije, the chairman of a non-recognized Uprona party wing and member of Hope coalition, says the conclusions of the new facilitator constitute a solid basis that would allow them resume the stalled talks.

“Since the ruling party and the government, the opposition and civil society, have both agreed to return to the roundtable for talks, it is a solid basis. Since we all agreed that there is no taboo issue and that there is no pre-requisite should be raised by one side or another, it is really a significant step forward, and now the ball is in the camp of Burundians,” he said.

As the facilitator did not say anything about a possible postponement of the coming presidential elections of July 21 while the opposition considers it as a point on the agenda for their discussions to come, the government of Burundi remains determined to carry on with the contested electoral calendar, despite the resumption of talks.

“We think we can continue with talks right now and extend them even after the elections. So talks cannot stop the electoral process. We have already said that we will take part in talks before, during and after elections,” said Edouard Nduwimana, the Burundi Home Affairs Minister.