US slams Nkurunziza inauguration, calls for dialogue

President Pierre Nkurunziza

President Pierre Nkurunziza

Following President Pierre Nkuruziza’s swearing in ceremony Thursday in Burundi, the United States is dismissing his inauguration and instead pressing the Bujumbura government to engage political opponents.

In a statement Thursday, the US state department says “Today’s inauguration in Burundi demonstrates the ruling party’s intent to ignore the voices of its people in pursuit of its own political agenda.”

The US charged “an inauguration – without a government that represents the population’s many political voices and without a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue – will not resolve the political and security crisis in Burundi.”

Having been declared winner of the July 21 contentious presidential poll, President Nkurunziza was today sworn in Thursday in the capital Bujumbura at the Parliamentary buildings in a ceremony that was shunned by nearly the entire region and international community.

“To those who combatted elections through the coup attempt, aiming at obstructing democracy, we tell them to stop as soon as they can,” President Nkurunziza said today in his speech to the nation in tatters thanking his security forces and “patriotic Burundians” who helped thwart the May 13 coup that almost deposed him.

President Nkurunziza defiantly said the fact that he defeated the attempted coup “should serve as an example and warning to all Burundians and to the international community”

The United States statement goes on to warn that Nkurunziza’s inauguration is neither an indication the 4-month conflict is over nor of his legitimacy and strength to govern.

“The situation is increasingly volatile and President Nkurunziza’s ability to effectively govern the country remains in peril as Burundi struggles with the continued aftermath of a deeply flawed electoral process, the closure of democratic space, a declining economy, and increasing violence,” John Kirby, State Department spokesman said in the press release.

Kirby maintains “an inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue is the only credible route to reestablish stability in Burundi and forge a peaceful and consensus path forward for the Burundian people.  Such a dialogue could begin to restore democratic credibility to the country by reaffirming the Arusha Agreement, reopening press outlets, releasing political prisoners, and reaching agreement on an electoral process going forward.”