Burundi Peace Talks Pause with Little Progress

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After stalling on peace talks for months, Burundi finally sat down at the table for a four-day meeting in Arusha to discuss the country’s political crisis.

However, hopes of any progress were quickly dashed when the Burundi government refused to hold talks with opposition members. Four days later the meetings without the country’s leading opposition group even attending the talks.

 

Four days of talks, no progress

For some, the fact talks were held for four consecutive days is a victory in itself. The UK Special Envoy to the African Great Lakes, Danae Dholakia, praised former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa for hosting the discussions.

“I strongly welcome the resumption of the internationally mediated Burundi Dialogue in Arusha from May 21 to 24 facilitated by former Tanzanian President Mkapa. “I congratulate Mr Mkapa for his clear and even-handed approach, which has provided a strong foundation on which to build,” the UK envoy said in a statement.

Except, that foundation is one built without any the involvement of opposition members involved in the Burundi crisis. The government has insisted there will be no negotiations, yet Mkapa’s office claims they will get their chance to speak: “in due course.”

 

Opposition parties speak out

Opposition groups in Burundi have been quick to dismiss the talks in Arusha as purely ceremonial. The country’s leading opposition party CNARED condemned the talks as a “waste of time”.

“The negotiations that exclude the real stakeholders in the crisis, including CNARED, civil society, armed movements, religious representatives, media, women and youth are a waste of time,” said a CNARED statement. “Those who have gone to Arusha know themselves, they have no atom of [a] solution to the crisis that [has] rocked Burundi.”

The party insists it will not accept any post-crisis deal that allows President Nkurunziza to remain in office. Meanwhile, Nkurunziza’s government refuses to even negotiate with the party. Burundi’s supposed peace talks appear to have reached an early impasse.

 

Featured image:

By KALOU KAKA – Kalou Kaka, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26575933