Burundi: local rights body urges leaders to resume dialogue, death toll mounts

LATEST VICTIMS: Four people were gunned down by unidentified assailants in Musaga neighbourhood in Bujumbura Tusday night

LATEST VICTIMS: Four people were gunned down by unidentified assailants in Musaga neighbourhood in Bujumbura Tusday night

The Independent National Commission for Human Rights (CNIDH) in Burundi is calling upon the government and all stakeholders to resume talks in a bid to end the turmoil that has destabilized the country for the last four months.

In a press conference held this Wednesday in Bujumbura, the chairman of the commission Jean-Baptiste Bariyerekana said the body is appalled by the fact that talks to end the conflict have stalled yet politically motivated violence is on the rise.

“We would like to invite the Burundi Government to make a step forward by seeking to sit with all political stakeholders to resume talks.” He said adding “to political leaders, we urge them to resume talks so as to find a solution to all issues dividing them. They should also set aside violence as a political weapons or means through which to achieve their objectives.”

The rights custodian also appeals to religious leaders to break the silence and preach non-violence to their followers.

“They should play the role of mediator between the belligerents, sensitize people to live in harmony and to respect human rights,” Bariyerekana said.

CNIDH equally urges the international community maintain pressure on Burundi government and political leaders to resume talks without delay in an effort to end the political stalemate and violence.

Jean-Baptiste Bariyerekana rejects the notion that the current conflict has an ethnic tinge attached to it.

“So far, we don’t understand how people can say the current crisis is an ethnic-based conflict while both sides (Tusti and Hutu) are targeted. On our side we don’t believe it because we haven’t realized it,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the absence of dialogue between rival leaders, the death toll continues to rise day after day. It’s rare for a night/day to pass without a person being gunned down or killed by a grenade explosion.

On Tuesday night in Musaga, one of the opposition strongholds, four people were shot dead by unknown gunmen at a nightclub. The killing occurred following a massive police operation in which military equipment was seized.

All international efforts to mediate the talks in Burundi haven’t succeeded. Since the rejection of the UN Special Envoys Saïd Djinnit, and Abdoulaye Bathily by the opposition and the government respectively, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni designated by the East African Heads of State Summit in July, hasn’t been able to to jumpstart the negotiations.

Museveni’s delegate, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, adjourned the talks on the eve of the July 21 presidential poll and they are yet to resume

There have been reports that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon might yet again be in the process of appointing and sending another facilitator to push for the speedy resumption of talks.