Burundi government rejoins UN-led crisis talks

Pierre Nkurunziza

Pierre Nkurunziza

Burundi’s government on Wednesday joined a fresh round of UN-led talks hoped to broker peace between rival parties following weeks of violence and ahead of elections on Monday.

It comes one day after the ruling CNDD-FDD party slammed the talks as a diversion “aimed to disrupt the elections.”

The troubled central African nation has been in crisis since late April over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year term.

This move is branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that paved the way to end 13 years of civil war in 2006.

Opposition politicians as well as civil society and religious leaders have been taking part in the talks.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Edouard Ndiwumana, the government representative to the talks, also attended the meeting.

“It is good news the Burundian government has come… although we still regret the absence of the ruling party,” a source close to the mediators said.

Parliamentary elections are planned for June 29, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.

Last week, the Burundian human rights group Aprodeh said that at least 70 people have been killed, 500 wounded and more than 1,000 jailed since late April, when the opposition took to the streets to protest Nkurunziza’s bid to remain in power.

More than 100,000 people have fled the violence to neighbouring countries.

Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt last month and has since faced down international pressure, including aid cuts, aimed at forcing him to reconsider his attempt to stay in power, which diplomats fear could plunge the country back into war.

The last round of talks, which the government took part in, stalled earlier this month after the UN envoy quit after civil society leaders accused him of bias.

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