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Mkapa urges Burundi parties to mend fences, forge ahead

THE facilitator in the ongoing Burundi peace talks, Mr Benjamin Mkapa (pictured), has advised participants in the 4th session of the negotiations taking place in Arusha to think ahead instead of exhuming old graves.

“People of Burundi need to think of the way forward and how to iron out shortcomings from previous elections, ready for free and fair polls come 2020. Engaging in a tug-of-war with the sitting government in Bujumbura will not solve problems,” pointed out the former president o f Tanzania.

He dismissed people, groups and parties which have been insinuating that he, the facilitator, was legitimising Mr Pierre Nkurunziza’s presidency and government.

“All international communities have been sending envoys to Bujumbura, ambassadors come here and present their credentials to Nkurunziza; the UN the AU and others are working with the Burundi government, those who think I am the one who is endorsing the government of Burundi they must be out of their minds,” he said.

According to Mr Mkapa, conflicting Burundi parties must work to ensure peace in their country, through ongoing negotiations and then work to ensure that future elections do not run into misunderstandings or result into conflicts; concentrating in mud-slinging or wrestling with President Nkurunziza will produce nothing but more problems.

Earlier on, the National Council for the Respect of the Arusha Agreement (CNARED), the main platform of Burundi opposition in exile, had asked the facilitator to postpone the on-going dialogue.

A statement from CNARED official, Mr Pancrace Cimpaye demanded that the facilitator should postpone the 4th session of the dialogue that has just started at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arumeru.

“CNARED asks the facilitator to postpone this session in order to hold consultations with all stakeholders to agree on a consensual agenda, a joint representation of negotiating stakeholders as well as reassuring security conditions,” read part of the statement.

CNARED has apparently boycotted the fourth session of the inter-Burundian dialogue. Cimpaye particularly calls for the involvement of the United Nations and the African Union.

“This dialogue causes dangers that may be harmful to the whole country. I appeal to the international community particularly the UN and the AU to help organise an inclusive dialogue,” he added.

The participants were supposed to sign an agreement at the end of the talks on the 8th of December, 2017, but according to Cimpaye, the Burundi government is not also present at the dialogue and thus wondered which parties would sign the agreement.

Bujumbura is represented by Térence Ntahiraja, Permanent Secretary and spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, to the fourth session of the dialogue between the Burundian government and opposition that opened in Arusha on November 27, under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC).

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