Burundi Not Against Peace Talks Says Tanzanian Minister
Burundi has not boycotted peace talks designed to end ongoing violence in the country, according to Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Augustine Mahiga.
The Tanzanian diplomat, who is also the chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers, insists Burundi will continue to be involved in peace talks, despite its absence from Wednesday’s meeting.
Burundi peace process ‘still on track’
Dr Mahiga assured journalists on Thursday that dialogue to establish peace in Burundi remains on track, regardless of numerous setbacks since talks began in Uganda last month.
“The Burundi peace process is still on track despite the some signals to the contrary in the media”, Mahiga told the press during his speech at the opening of talks as they moved into Tanzania.
Reports had emerged on Wednesday that Burundi government representatives refused to participate in peace talks with the country’s rebel forces. However, Mahiga maintains that Burundi has simply put peace talks on hold until a later date can be agreed.
“[The]Information we have is that the Burundian authorities are still preparing to get the process off the ground,” he said.
Progress continues to stall
Little progress has been made so far in peace talks that aim to bring an end to violence in Burundi that erupted in April last year. Government representatives initially demanded that any opposition members involved in a coup attempt from May last year be removed from negotiations.
Burundi’s failure to show for Wednesday’s talks prompted reports the government has further refused to negotiate with opposition members. No date was set to reschedule the meetings either, which only added to speculation the government had refused to participate.
However, Mahiga insists Burundi notified the EAC it would be absent and that the country remains dedicated to establishing peace.
“It is not true that Burundi have snubbed the talks, they have notified us that they are still planning on whom to send for the talks,” the diplomat said.