Burundi Peace Talks Falter, Failed Coup Defendants Plead Guilty
Peace talks held in East Africa to resolve Burundi’s national security crisis have deteriorated after the government refused to participate.
The Burundi government had previously demanded all opposition members involved in a failed coup attempt last May be excluded from negotiations. The demand was never met and talks were briefly restored, but the government has now refused to take part altogether. Meanwhile, five defendants charged with involvement in May’s coup attempt have pleaded guilty, according to judicial sources.
Peace talks hit dead end
Peace talks, which opened in Uganda late last month, were scheduled to resume on Wednesday in Tanzania. However, the government has refused to participate in talks that include opposition members it deems to be supporting perpetual violence in Burundi.
In contrast, one of the leading opposition coalitions in the country, CNARED, says it hasn’t received any invitation to attend the peace talks. Jean Minani, leader of the Frodebu political party – which is a member of the coalition – claims the government is stalling because it has no place to negotiate.
“”It is not about President Nkurunziza to choose with who [he] has to negotiate,” Minani has been quoted by the press. “They don’t want to negotiate because they know they are the causes of all the problems of Burundi.”
As peace talks stall in neighbouring countries, 28 police and military figures face trial back in Burundi for their parts played in May’s attempted coup. Five defendants are confirmed to have pleaded guilty, including former defence minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye, who was second in command of the plot.
“I could not remain with my arms crossed while the police were killing the population, while President Pierre Nkurunziza was playing football and while the troops… appeared indifferent,” army general Ndayirukiye reportedly said in court.
All the defendants face the possibility of life in prison, while coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare remains on the run.
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