Fear about Burundi crisis is mounting as governments and non-governmental agents hold consultative meetings while others send fact-finding missions to the country before the violence escalates into civil war.
On Wednesday 6, January 2016, The Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African Community (EAC), also Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, convened a Consultative Meeting in Arusha to deliberate on the way forward on the situation in Burundi.
The EAC meeting was held on the same day that peace talks between Burundi’s government and opposition groups were scheduled to take place in Arusha, Tanzania.
“The meeting expressed support for the facilitation efforts under President Yoweri Museveni and noted that the dialogue scheduled for 6th January 2016 did not take place due to ongoing consultations. The meeting committed to intensify consultations with the Burundi government and the opposition with a view to continue the Burundi political dialogue as soon as possible,” EAC Secretariat council press statement read in part.
The recent EAC meeting expressed concern on the continued political crisis in Burundi and its potential to degenerate further with far reaching humanitarian implications; and in that regard reiterated the need for the parties to embrace political dialogue as the only feasible way to end the crisis in Burundi.
Last month, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, in his capacity as Facilitator of the Burundi dialogue, launched a dialogue meeting in Kampala.
Peace Keeping efforts thwarted
According to Carina Tertsakian, Human Rights Watch senior researcher on Burundi and Rwanda: "It is certainly regrettable that the different parties do not seem to be able to come together," Tertsakian said. "I would say on the government's side; the government does not seem to be acknowledging the urgency of the need to take measures to stop the violence." Tertsakian was quoted by Voice of America.
Efforts by the African Union to help manage the crisis by sending 5,000 peacekeepers was received negatively by Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza who responded that "everyone has to respect Burundi borders." He added that by sending the peacekeepers, the country would consider itself under attack and would fight back.
Attacks spreading to neighboring countries
Burundians in neighboring countries are living in fear after the body of Jean de Dieu Kabura, a member of the opposition Mouvement pour la Solidarité et le Séveloppement (MSD) party was found in an open field in Nairobi. Still, there is no information on who killed the man who was a member of the opposition fighting President Nkurunziza’s leadership.
MSD supporters took to twitter to condemn the killing with a hashtag reading “Burundi exports death in the sub-region.”
Burundi unrest started after Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office in April, last year. He survived a coup attempt in May and won a re-election in July which was boycotted by the opposition.
Alarmed at reports of continued attacks in parts of Burundi, on Sunday, 20th December 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta, sent a special envoy to meet all stakeholders and appeal for calm.
According to Mr Kenyatta the August 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, of which Kenya is a Guarantor, forms an important basis for the attainment of peace, security, and stability in Burundi.
Through the President’s special envoy, Principal Secretary for Interior, Dr (Eng.) Karanja Kibicho, Kenyatta called on the leaders to “place the interest of their nation; the aspirations and safety of their people; and the destiny of future generations at the fore of their activities in the weeks and months to come.”
He called for a cessation of violence and urged all Burundian stakeholders in the current conflict to embrace honest and inclusive dialogue as the only way to secure sustainable peace in the country.
The EAC meeting was attended by the Hon. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Angola, also Chairperson of the Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR); Hon. Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, Minister for Defence of the Republic of Uganda and representative of President Yoweri Museveni, the Facilitator of the Dialogue; Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General; Mr. Kassimi Bamba, from the African Union Office in Burundi and the Great Lakes region among other senior officials.
Image Credit: VOA