Uganda’s president calls for unity to end Burundi crisis.
July 23, 2015 Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has urged Burundi’s government and its opponents to put aside differences and rebuild the country which has been plagued by protests and fighting in the past few weeks.
Burundi’s present political crisis is the worst since the civil war ended in 2005. It started when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to run for a third term in office, in an election scheduled for July 21.
Opposition political parties and civil society groups have denounced his re-election bid as unconstitutional and are boycotting the race in protest. Nkurunziza however, cites a constitutional court ruling declaring saying he can run for five more years in office.
At the opening session of talks in Bujumbura between the government, ruling and opposition parties, civil society, religious leaders and others, Museveni who chaired the event addressed those present saying, “The ruling party in Burundi and the opposition parties and the civil society have agreed to negotiate intensively and continuously and expeditiously in order to reach an agreement,”
Crispus Kiyonga, Uganda’s Defense Minister, is expected to lead ongoing discussions.
A senior official in the Amizero y’abarundi opposition coalition, Charles Nditije, said Museveni should demand that Nkurunziza stick to the two-term limit set out in the Arusha peace accords that ended the civil wa,r and create a fair environment for a vote.
Another opposition leader, Agathon Rwasa said all parties need to be brought to the negotiating table.
“I can say that, I think everyone is satisfied because at least there is an opportunity because you know some time it seemed impossible for dialogue between the government party and the opposition and civil society to take place but now it is possible because all the players have been invited to this dialogue,”
Experts doubt Museveni’s authority as a mediator in the crucial matter because as president, he has overseen the scrapping of term limits and Ugandan opposition politicians are often detained. He is expected to run in Uganda’s 2016 presidential race.
The crisis has led to the deaths of dozens of people, with several private radio stations getting shut down amidst ongoing protests since Nkurunziza’s announcement in April of his intent to run again.
Despite calls by the African Union and regional east African states for dialogue, as well as efforts by concerned nations and organizations in Africa, the crisis seems to be ongoing, with no relief in sight.