UN Security Council delegation arrives in troubled Burundi for crisis talks

UN Security Council members arrive in Bujumbura, Thursday.

UN Security Council members arrive in Bujumbura, Thursday.

A UN Security Council delegation has arrived in the Burundian capital Bujumbura for talks with President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government to allow peacekeepers into the troubled country, and to foster political dialogue aimed at ending the crisis that has gripped the tiny East African state since April last year.

The Bujumbura government has rejected the proposed deployment of African Union peacekeepers, saying that the proposal is a violation of national sovereignty and that no troops will enter the country without permission.

The UN Security Council delegation led by the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, is expected to meet several political and civil society leaders. They plan to meet with President Nkurunziza on Friday in the central province of Karusi.

Last month the Burundian leader was quoted as saying that his government will fight African Union peacekeepers if they are deployed in his country to end the political violence that has claimed hundreds of lives and created a humanitarian catastrophe.

The UN team was greeted by grenade explosions Thursday evening as residents in some parts of the country, particularly in the opposition strongholds of Nyakabiga, Bwiza, Musaga and Cibitoke reported grenade blasts.

Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the conflict internally started on Tuesday this week with the Inter-Burundian dialogue but without the opposition who have boycotted it citing lack of a clear agenda.

“It was predictable that the National Commission for Inter-Burundian dialogue (CNDI) had to come up with a conclusion that favors the ruling party,” Tatien Sibomana, spokesman of the UPRONA party wing said.

In the meantime, grenade explosions were heard shortly after the arrival of the UN Security Council team on Thursday evening in some parts of the country, particularly in the opposition strongholds of Nyakabiga, Bwiza, Musaga and Cibitoke.