EAC leaders to meet over Burundi turmoil

President Pierre Nkurunziza

President Pierre Nkurunziza

The leaders of the East African Community (EAC)  are due to convene in Arusha, Tanzania for the forthcoming heads of state summit next Wednesday March 2nd in an effort to discuss ways of forging dialogue and end the deadly conflict in neighbouring Burundi.

The summit will be chaired by the new Tanzanian leader, John Magufuli, also the current chairman of the regional bloc. This will be Magufuli’s first time presiding over the summit bringing together his counterparts in the region but President Jakaya Kikwete’s successor has been following the crisis next door very closely.

In the few months he has been in office, Magufuli has dispatched his Foreign Minister to Bujumbura to assess the situation and report back to him, and the new head of state has also hosted one of Burundi’s vice presidents at state house as he was briefed on the political impasse.

According to Ambassador Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the EAC, the summit is expected to receive technical reports from EAC foreign ministers, and from the mediation team comprising of Uganda and the African Union among other partners.

Regional leaders under this summit met three time in Tanzania last year to try and devise ways to end the conflict in vain. It is worth noting that while Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza was in Dar es Salaam for one of these meetings in May 2015, renegade generals attempted to depose him in a bloody foiled coup. He eventually managed to survive but he hasn’t left Burundi since, and it’s not clear whether he will attend next week’s gathering.