Burundi’s Nkurunziza open to talks with opposition

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza calls on opposition for constructive talks after weeks of protests

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's communications advisor, Willy Nyamitwe, said although the incumbent government considers the Nkurunziz’s presidential bid to be perfectly legal, he said for the first time that the matter was not "taboo," according to AFP.

"It is true that during previous discussions, we have left the issue on the menu,” Willy told reporters during a summit of regional powers that was held in neighboring Tanzania last Sunday.

"So this question [of a third mandate] should not come up again. But for the president, it is not a taboo subject," he added, urging the opposition to engage in "a frank, constructive dialogue" so that elections can be held.

Burundi has been hit by weeks of civil unrest as the country’s opposition wants Nkurunziza to withdraw his third-term presidential bid in the upcoming June 26 elections, claiming it violates the country's constitution and the Arusha Accords, a peace deal that ended a over decade long ethnic civil war in 2005.

More than 40 people have been killed and 500 wounded since April, during protests opposing Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

Burundi’s constitution limits the presidency to two terms in office, but Nkurunziza's supporters say he can run again because his first term was picked by lawmakers and not by elections.

A general from the Burundian army attempted a coup last month while Nkurunziza was in Tanzania for talks over the protests in Burundi. The coup attempt failed and Nkurunziza has since ignored international pressure, including aid cuts, aimed at forcing him to reconsider.

Backed by armed groups who support Nkurunziza, Burundian police have allegedly conducted raids overnight on Wednesday. No casualties were reported from the raids. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Security Council asked regional leaders to disarm youth groups in a statement.

"The swift implementation of measures must be urged to help create the conditions for the holding of peaceful, inclusive and credible elections in Burundi, such as the disarmament of all armed youth groups affiliated with the political parties,” the statement said.

Urging all Burundian stakeholders and regional actors to continue to support ongoing efforts to find a solution in accordance with the Arusha Agreement, the US warned all sides to refrain from any acts that could contribute to the climate of instability or undermine the rule of law in Burundi.

The US placed visa restrictions on Burundians it deemed responsible prior to the elections, claiming that violence and militias have no place in the democratic process and all people should vote for a better Burundi.

More than 100,000 people have fled to neighbouring nations since the political violence that culminated in last week's foiled coup attempt erupted in April, according to the UN.

Cholera has claimed the lives of thirty-one Burundian refugees in camps ın Tanzania, with 3,000 cases of the epidemic reported since last week, the UN refugee agency has said.

According to Al Jazeera, there are 50,000 refugees currently stranded on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, where cholera has spread.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that tens of thousands of refugees were displaced from Burundi because of the civil disorder there, and that the outbreak of disease among the refugees had become a "a new, worrying, and growing additional complication.” 

TRTWorld and agencies