Burundi’s Nkurunziza promises to engage in inclusive dialogue, says UN chief

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressing the press in Bujumbura, President Pierre Nkurunziza looks on.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressing the press in Bujumbura, President Pierre Nkurunziza looks on.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has assured him of his intent to sit down with other political stakeholders to end the crisis in the Central African state.

While visiting Burundi, Mr. Ban Ki-moon appealed to leaders and all players to summon courage as they did years ago with the landmark Arusha Peace Accord, and embark on a credible process leading to a durable solution of the 10-month conflict.

“Burundian politicians must be willing to show courage and confidence that will make a credible political process possible so as to ensure Burundians can once again live in peace and enjoy human rights,” the UN Secretary General told the press after his meeting with Burundi President Nkurunziza.

Ban Ki-Moon arrived in the Burundian capital Bujumbura Monday evening to try and press for the resumption of talks.
“I was very much encouraged that political leaders, both from the ruling party and opposition, promised to engage in an inclusive dialogue, and this is what President Nkurunziza confirmed,” Mr. Ki-moon revealed.

The UN Secretary General has also recognized steps taken by the government in Bujumbura to restore normalcy. He particularly singled out the recent government decision to reopen two private radio stations that had been shut down and banned in the wake of the May 2015, failed coup, cancellation of 15 arrest warrants on ex government officials in exile and the promise to release a number of political prisoners.

Ban Ki-moon however, expects more from Burundian leaders.

“This is an encouraging step, but I hope again that additional measures will be taken,” he said.

Ban Ki-Moon revealed that Jamal Benomar, his Special Advisor, has already deployed his “team to Burundi to work with the government to support a credible and inclusive dialogue and advise the authorities on addressing security concerns.”

President Nkurunziza and the UN Secretary General however declined taking questions from the press.
Ban Ki-moon’s visit follows that of the UN Security Council team last month.

The UN has been encouraging the government in Burundi to cooperate with the African Union and embrace its proposal to deploy 5000 peacekeeping troops but it was not clear whether or not both President Nkurunziza and the UN chief discussed the issue.