EAC leaders to meet in Dar es Salaam over Burundi conflict

Dr Harrison Mwakyembe (C) Tanzania's East African Cooperation Minister and Chairperson of the ministers' meeting with Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera (R)EAC Secretary General

Dr Harrison Mwakyembe (C) Tanzania’s East African Cooperation Minister and Chairperson of the ministers’ meeting with Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera (R)EAC Secretary General

The leaders of East African Community (EAC) countries are due to meet yet again in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Monday July 6, to deliberate on the escalating conflict in Burundi.

The leaders will be meeting in a crisis summit for the third time since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for the controversial third term triggered the ongoing conflict at the end of April.

The heads of state meeting, as usual was preceded by that of regional ministers Sunday who discussed two reports on the situation in the central African nation.

The ministers’ meeting held at Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam focused on resolutions made by the leaders in the past two summits on the urgent issue.

At the meeting, Dr Richard Sezibera the EAC Secretary General said “we can all recall the last summit decided to call for long postponement of the planned presidential election. The summit also directed the ministers to communicate the decision to their respective governments,” he said.

After the May 31 extraordinary heads of state summit, the leaders of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya among others called for postponement of elections in Burundi for a period not less than 90 days but clearly the government of in Bujumbura hasn’t acted upon that resolution as they just organized communal and legislative polls and in 10 days they plan to hold a presidential election.

The leaders had also urged the Burundian authorities to disarm Imbonerakure militia allied with the President and the ruling party CNDD-FDD, and to reopen private media but still no progress has been made on these recommendation.

The presidency in Burundi hasn’t confirmed whether or not President Nkurunziza will attend Monday’s summit. He hasn’t left the country since he survived and quashed an attempted coup in May that almost deposed him while he was away in Dar es Salaam for the first summit.

The 2-month conflict has claimed more than 80 lives and has driven more than 144, 000 Burundians out of the country, majority of the refugees are in Tanzania and Rwanda. As the July 15 presidential election nears, all these figures are expected to rise.

Grenade attacks have been occurring on a daily basis over the last two weeks.