Burundi president agrees to hold talks to end crisis

February 23, 2016 4:21 pm
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After meeting with Nkurunziza and government and opposition politicians, Ban said that all sides had agreed to "inclusive dialogue" and that the president "confirmed, that he would engage in political dialogue"/FILE
After meeting with Nkurunziza and government and opposition politicians, Ban said that all sides had agreed to “inclusive dialogue” and that the president “confirmed, that he would engage in political dialogue”/FILE

, BUJUMBURA, Feb 23 – Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and opposition politicians have agreed to hold talks to end a 10-month-old crisis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

After meeting with Nkurunziza and government and opposition politicians, Ban said that all sides had agreed to “inclusive dialogue” and that the president “confirmed, that he would engage in political dialogue.”

Overview
  • After meeting with Nkurunziza and government and opposition politicians, Ban said that all sides had agreed to "inclusive dialogue" and that the president "confirmed, that he would engage in political dialogue."
  • "Burundi's political leaders must be ready to summon the courage and the confidence that will make a credible political process possible," Ban said.

“Burundi’s political leaders must be ready to summon the courage and the confidence that will make a credible political process possible,” Ban said.

Ban met with both government and opposition politicians on Monday night before holding talks with Nkurunziza on Tuesday morning. He later left for Democratic Republic of Congo on the second leg of an Africa tour that will also take him to South Sudan, where civil war erupted in December 2013.

It remains unclear which of his opponents Nkurunziza will be willing to negotiate with as some are in exile, some jailed and some have taken up arms.

“This dialogue concerns all Burundians, except those engaged in acts of destabilisation,” Nkurunziza said Tuesday, hours after overnight grenade attacks in several city neighbourhoods left a dozen injured.

READ: Dozen injured in Burundi grenade blast as UN chief visits

“Last night, ten grenades exploded in several districts of Bujumbura, leaving a dozen people wounded,” a senior police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The officer said two soldiers were among the injured as well as civilians after the series of explosions in outlying parts of the capital.

Burundi’s crisis was triggered by Nkurunziza’s controversial decision in April last year to run for a third term which he went on to win in a July election.

Over 400 people have been killed, more than 240,000 have left the country and violent attacks have become a daily routine in the months since, raising fears of a return to the civil war fought between 1993-2006.

Nkurunziza has faced down an African Union threat to send peacekeepers to his country.

Ban’s visit – his first since the start of the crisis – was aimed at reviving stalled efforts to end the dispute and comes after the Burundi government appeared to soften its position towards opponents by agreeing to receive a delegation of African heads of state, expected later this week.

It also cancelled international arrest warrants against several exiled opposition leaders and on Tuesday the government said 2,000 prisoners would be released in what Ban described as a “goodwill gesture”.

Nkurunziza said he had appealed to Ban to help end Rwandan support for Burundian rebels alleged by Burundian authorities and UN investigators.

“We also discussed regional problems and we explained how Rwanda is trying to destabilise us,” Nkurunziza said. “We told (Ban) that we had evidence and we asked for UN intervention to push for Rwanda to give it up, so that Burundians and Rwandans can live in harmony as in the past.”

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