EAC urges Burundi to move election, ex-presidents call for a peacekeeping mission


EAC Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera (R) and Honorable Dr. Harrison George Mwakyembe (C), Tanzania’s minister for East African Community meeting with President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi Sunday May 24.Photo/courtesy of EAC


The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Ambassador Richard Sezibera has called on President Pierre Nkurunziza and his government to postpone the forthcoming general election, allow the return of refugees, and reopen activities of independent media.

Ambassador Sezibera, accompanied by Dr. Harrison George Mwakyembe, Tanzania’s Minister for East African Community and Chama Chamapinduzi (CCM) Politician and Member of Parliament, made the remarks today while in Bujumbura to meet with President Nkurunziza.

Since the political revolt in Burundi broke out in April following the ruling party CNDD-FDD nominated President Nkurunziza to run for a controversial third term, several citizens including an opposition leader have been killed and 4 private media outlets closed, and staggering 100,000-200,000 Burundians have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Earlier this week, regional ministers of East African Community Affairs, held an emergency meeting in Arusha, Tanzania to address developments in the Central African nation

Sezibera said that the EAC has been asked to set up a task force comprised of stakeholders and experts to assess the situation in Burundi and make recommendations to the heads of by the heads of state as they seek to address both the election and the conflict in the country.

The EAC Secretary General said that the Community (EAC) is planning a second meeting on the Burundi situation, and from that meeting, concrete solutions will be proposed.

Despite worsening crisis and growing calls for President Nkurunziza drop his third term bid, and for the government to reschedule the presidential election, the president and his government remain defiant he is running and the election will go on as scheduled on June 26.

In the meantime, Burundian refugees living in Rwanda now, say that they are not ready to go back home as long as Nkurunziza is president and runs for another term of office.

“Our country needs nothing but restoration of peace. This can only be reached if the incumbent President Nkurunziza goes. Otherwise there is no other solution that will bring peace in Burundi” one refugee told EAC ministers of Uganda and Rwanda, who visited Mahama camp which is now home to over 21,000 Burundi refugees.

In a related development, two former Burundian presidents, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and Domitien Ndayizeye, and opposition leaders and civil society groups are calling on regional heads of state to deploy a peacekeeping mission in the country to avoid an “imminent bloodbath.”