Governing party in Burundi boycotts peace talks

Facilitators, Civil Society and Opposition at UN Offices waiting for the government's side that never showed up

Facilitators, Civil Society and Opposition at UN Offices waiting for the government and CNDD-FDD representative that never showed up

The ruling party in Burundi CNDD-FDD is boycotting talks to end the political crisis in the country.

The talks between the government and the ruling CNDD-FDD on one side, and the opposition and civil society on the other, were expected to resume Tuesday following the appointment of the new mediator Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN Secretary General Special Representative in Central Africa.

In a press statement, Pascal Nyabenda, Chairman of the CNDD-FDD, said they are not ready to take part in the talks that would make them waste their time in the ongoing electoral campaign.

“Our priority now is to carry on with our electoral campaign, hence we will not take part into this new dialogue whose aim is just to distract the electoral process.” Nyabenda told the press Tuesday.

CNDD-FDD was joined in the boycott by another opposition party The Union for National Progress (UPRONA) which suggested talks be postponed until after the forthcoming general elections.

“We have the constitution and the electoral code; we think other conventions to agree on are just wastage of time. If they want us to sit and discuss, they have to wait for us until the end of the elections,” said Gaston Sindimwo, the secretary general of the UPRONA.

He said his party will never take part in any talks before the end of the electoral process.

Mr. Sindimwo said the UN Mission in Burundi (MENUB) is not in Burundi to dictate what Burundians have to do.

“The UN Mission in Burundi has to understand that the electoral process is for Burundi as a sovereign country; they are here to support us not to constrain us what we have to do,” he said.

Agathon Rwasa, a prominent opposition candidate who had responded to the invitation, regrets the attitude of the ruling party.

“The region and the African Union have urged us to sit and settle our disputes and agree on a conducive calendar for an inclusive electoral process. So, the decision of CNDD-FDD to boycott the talks portrays the lack of will on the government side to solve the crisis for the benefit of all Burundians.” Rwasa said.

He adds next week’s communal and legislative elections will not be recognized by Burundians and the international community.

“The Monday elections are just for the government, not for Burundians” Rwasa charged announcing publically that he will not participate in what he calls “rigged elections”.

On Monday, the facilitation team led by Abdoulaye Bathily announced the resumption of talks this Tuesday at 11 am local time at the United Nations Electoral Mission in Burundi (MENUB) office but they never took place and no future date has been set for the talks to resume.

Mr. Bathily, the UN Special Representative, is leading a multinational facilitation team made of Prof. Ibrahima Fall on behalf of the African Union (AU), Ambassador Richard Sezibera representing the East African Community (EAC), and Prof. Ntumba Luaba on behalf of the International conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

Bathily replaced the former facilitator, Said Djinnit, who stepped down following opposition criticism that he was favoring the government and the ruling party.