Burundi govt won’t join crisis talks unless consulted



Burundi’s government on Wednesday refused to take part in stalled talks to end months of political crisis unless it was first consulted on who else was taking part.

In a statement from the president’s office broadcast over national radio and monitored in Nairobi, the government also demanded an official invitation before joining Monday’s fresh round of talks in the so-called Burundi “dialogue”.

“The Burundi government must be consulted (as) we must be in agreement on the persons who should be invited, the dates and the place,” said Willy Nyamitwe, communications officer for the presidency.

The authorities were also awaiting “an official invitation”, he added.

Burundi has been in political strife for a year, with a quarter of a million people in exile and up to 500 killed.

A regionally-mediated dialogue between all Burundians is being pushed by the international community as the best way to avoid civil war and ex Tanzania president Benjamin Mkapa last weekend announced a new round of talks for May 2 to 6 in Arusha.

The resumption of the dialogue was welcomed by the US state department in a statement late Tuesday “as the best means to restoring peace and stability to Burundi.”

It said (we) “strongly urge all stakeholders to fully participate without preconditions or red lines.”

But the government has repeatedly refused to sit at the same table as the main umbrella opposition group CRANED, including leaders who leaders are in exile, accusing them of fomenting the trouble.

Nyamitwe said on radio that “those who have attacked the lives of citizens, who hoped to overthrow institutions that were democratically elected, and others who are involved in armed insurrection in our country, cannot be summoned to this dialogue.”

The trouble erupted after President Pierre Annunziata’s controversial decision last April to run for a third term, a vote he won amid opposition boycotts in July.

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