Burundi: US calls for immediate and unconditional resumption of dialogue

thomas perriello

Thomas Perriello, US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region


The United States is yet again appealing to all Burundian stakeholders to join an inclusive dialogue without preconditions to resolve the current political crisis.

The call was made by Tom Perriello, the US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region during a press conference this Tuesday, after meeting several Burundian leaders.

“The World is now watching what is happening here in Burundi with even more intense scrutiny. We are encouraged by the recent apparent show of restraint this weekend after a week of inflammatory rhetoric,” Perriello said, adding however that the overall political crisis and humanitarian crisis in Burundi remain a serious threat.

The US envoy, who has been in the country several times pursuing peace efforts in Burundi urged all political players to go back to the negotiating table as it is the only way to put the country back on track.

“It is crucial for all parties to respect their commitments to join an international and immediate dialogue with no preconditions and without delay. This is the only viable way to return Burundi to the path of peace and prosperity,” he noted.

The visiting official expressed US support to the Bujumbura government efforts to mobilize an exclusively Burundian dialogue but indicated the fragility of the current turmoil necessitates regional intervention.

“We support the Government initiative of pursuing inter-Burundian dialogue but we have been clear we do not believe this constitutes a path to solve the overall political crisis.” Perriello said adding “Burundi has done such thing in the past and we believe it can be a significant part of its future, but in terms of solving the conflict at hand, we believe a regional dialogue is the only key.”

The US envoy to the region indicated the United States, in consultation with the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) is considering other ways to slap more sanctions on those believed to be carrying out activities to stall dialogue, as well as perpetrating the violence.

US has already suspended the East African nation from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative, and Washington has suspended its security cooperation with the Burundian military under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

“We are going to aggressively pursue accountability for those who committed abuses on all sides, and as we believe it’s time to get to the table, there will be consequences to those who stand in the way of peace and we will continue to consider all options,” Perriello said.

Tom Perriello’s latest visit comes after a tumultuous week in Burundi where officials have been accused of spewing “inflammatory, incendiary and ominous” rhetoric in the campaign to disarm the population.

The politicians’ speeches and warnings have forced hundreds to flee their homes particularly in the opposition strongholds of Cibitoke and Mutakura in Bujumbura.

Afrika Reporter understands however, that some of the families who had fled ahead of the President Pierre Nkurunziza’s 5-day ultimatum last weekend are beginning to return home following a relative calm observed over the weekend.