Is Nkurunziza’s egoism standing in the way of a breakthrough in Burundi?

President Pierre Nkunziza of Burundi. His decision to run for the third term sparked off the current crisis.

President Pierre Nkunziza of Burundi. His decision to run for the third term sparked off the current crisis.

Former South African enviable President and statesman Nelson Mandela once said that: “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he/she and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”

No wonder with his high aura of moral integrity, decades’ sacrifice for peace and justice in South Africa and premised on his viewpoint aforementioned, Mr. Mandela inherited Burundi tricky peace mediation from Julius Nyerere and excellently brought the socio-political mayhem to an end.

By his trademark uncompromising approach to the conflict, Mandala obliged the Burundian political class to replicate a sense of humanity; they had to show a sense of compassion to the suffering ordinary Burundians, he provoked a healthy debate on pertinent questions related to an amnesty for those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the integration of rebel forces into the national army, power sharing and the transition period.

It was then and only then that the regrettable civil war that had claimed over 300,000 vulnerable civilians instantly stopped. Through honesty and tough-talking, Mandela reminded Burundian egoistic politicians they needed to put aside inherent personal greed, ethnic hatred and mistrust and instead focus on the common good of accessing decent education, healthcare, justice, economic growth facilities, and to view ordinary Burundian compatriots’ welfare as a primary concern.

So what has really gone wrong again? Why have the Nkurunzizas had to start negotiations anew in the first place? Who of the parties has degenerated from the 2005 peace and development blueprint for the poor country? Or why is the government pessimistic about other groups’ grievances.?
It’s really a disgust reading news headline that: “Burundi government won’t join crisis talks unless consulted on whom to be involved into the peace talks”! Does president Nkurunziza mean to deny his illegitimate/ controversial third term in office is the cause of the ongoing political turmoil?

Unless the Burundi government recognizes and accepts that the bone of contention to the crisis is President Nkurinziza’s clinging to presidency ultra-vise the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi and that all the aggrieved parties to the political turmoil MUST be represented on the peace negotiations table, the worse turns to the worst sooner than later.

And as the situation stands at the moment, without the due political will, especially from the government side and among the antagonistic parties, the stalemate will soon culminate into genocide or full scale civil war. It’s really unbelievable that in spate of less than 356 days, an invaluable 500 innocent lives have been slaughtered and the UN, African Union and other partners are still hesitant to deploy a neutral peacekeeping contingent to save lives.

It’s on record the previous Burundian civil war that took a span of 12 years-1993-2005 claimed 3000 innocent people and sent over 150,000 Burundians to refugee camps in the neighboring countries. But that’s not comparable to the 500,000 lives lost since May last year! The number of vulnerable Burundians in refugee camps has risen to over 270,000!

Yet President Nkurunziza pretends ignorant of the cause for persistent violence and political unrest. He has equally forgotten the fact that the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi involved 19 Burundian aggrieved parties including his incumbent CNDD-FDD and that he and his e lebel militia were operating from outside the country.

If I’m not mistaken the agreement included Government of Burundi the National Assembly, Alliance Burundo-Africaine pour le Salut (ABASA), Alliance Nationale pour le Droit et le Développement (ANADDE), Alliance des Vaillants (AV-INTWARI), Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD), Front pour la Démocratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) and Front pour la Libération Nationale (FROLINA).

The others were Le Parti Socialiste et Panafricaniste (INKINZO), Le Parti pour la Libération du Peuple Hutu (PALIPEHUTU), Parti pour le Redressement National (PARENA), Parti Indépendant des Travailleurs (PIT), Parti Libéral (PL), Parti du Peuple (PP), Parti pour la Réconciliation du Peuple (PRP), Parti Social-Démocrate (PSD), Ralliement pour la Démocratie et le Développement Economique et Social (RADDES), Rassemblement du Peuple Burundais (RPB) and Union pour le Progrès National (UPRONA).

So, what’s the logic behind incumbent President’s arrogant refusal to sit at the same table with the main umbrella opposition group CNARED, including domestic and exiled leaders? The obvious reason is because he fears political opponents-making them scapegoats and accusing them of fomenting trouble.

Experience ought to have taught Burundian politicians that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear; for once such inherent fear is erases, a person knows that anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding of any situation. In other words to quote a renowned English legend statesman Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity while an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Considering the invaluable human lives that have perished in the senseless violence, considering the hundreds of thousands of helpless Burundians in refugee camps, considering the alarming decline of the poor country’s economy in such a short period, it’s high time the international community and regional political blocs stopped treating Pierre Nkurunziza’s regime with kid gloves, period.