Burundian opposition calls for UN involvement in crisis talks

December 9, 2015, 4:59am

By Desire Nimubona, Bloomberg on Business Day Live  

BUJUMBURA — Burundian opposition parties called for international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) to be included in talks aimed at ending violence that’s killed at least 277 people since April.

While the current mediator, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, is appropriate because he helped implement the Arusha Accords that ended Burundi’s civil war in 2005, more parties should be involved, a group of opposition parties known as CNARED said in a statement on its Facebook page.

"Museveni should be assisted by a panel of representatives from the East African Community, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the African Union (AU), the UN, the European Union (EU) and the US," it said. The group didn’t say why the mediation efforts should be broadened.

Violence in the nation that has 6% of the world’s nickel reserves has intensified since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a bid to seek a third term in office, forcing more than 200,000 people to flee to neighbouring nations. Mr Nkurunziza’s opponents say his July re-election violates a two-term limit set out in the Arusha Accords. The UN, US and EU said the polls weren’t credible.

Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, in his capacity as a former head of the AU, was scheduled to visit Burundi on Monday to help guide the talks with Mr Nkurunziza, his communication adviser Franck Kinninvo said in an e-mailed statement.

Kampala talks

The opposition parties said they wouldn’t be part of discussions held in Burundi, but would participate in negotiations in neighbouring Uganda.

"We are ready to partake in these talks and we agree that these talks could be organised in Kampala," the capital of Uganda, CNARED said.

"Our team is prepared to attend them."

The US has imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Burundi’s security minister, a senior police official and two people who led a failed coup in May. Burundian government spokesman Willy Nyamitwe said the sanctions are based on false information.

Burundi’s government is asking Belgium and neighbouring Rwanda to extradite eight journalists and media directors it suspects of involvement in a failed coup attempt in May, Radio Isanganiro, based in Bujumbura, said on Tuesday on its website, citing documents from the prosecutor’s office.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Burundi’s independent press has been under attack since May and "many journalists" have fled the country.