Mkapa: Talks key in Burundi peace

Tuesday February 12 2019

Tanzanian ex-president Benjamin Mkapa with

Tanzanian ex-president Benjamin Mkapa with Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza at State House Bujumbura. Mkapa has been the facilitator of the Burundi Dialogue. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

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As debate on the recently concluded Inter-Burundi Dialogue continue to rage,former President Benjamin Mkapa has said dialogue remains the only way to end hostilities there.

He says the East African Community (EAC) should remain seized on the regional security implications in Burundi should the parties to its internal crisis continue to differ.

“I still believe that dialogue continues to be the only genuine and sustainable way that could enable Burundian stakeholders to find a way out of the current situation,” he said in his report recently handed over to EAC leaders.

Mr Mkapa, appointed Facilitator of Inter-Burundi Dialogue in 2016, reiterated lack of a dedicated EAC summit on the crisis in Burundi has denied him the much needed support.

“The summit at that level may demonstrate collective leadership, unity of purpose and coherence to prevent the resurgence of violence in Burundi,”the former statesman recommended in his report.

He admitted that the mediation process assigned to him by the regional leaders could not move as anticipated right from the start due to budget constraints.

At the regional and international level, lack of coherence and coordination amongst the many players involved in the Burundi peace process did not represent “a common front necessary for effective support to the process”.

Inter-Burundi Dialogue was initiated by the EAC following chaos, including a coup attempt, which rocked the country from 2015 following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extension of his tenure.

The former head of state,nevertheless, said the political and security situation has greatly changed for better since 2016 when his facilitation process commenced.

“Clearly, my appeal for cessation of hostilities seems to have been heeded to by all parties,” “he said a report presented to the EAC leaders on February 1 summit.

The report appealed to the regional leaders to redouble their efforts to ensure stability is restored in Burundi “while preserving the gains of the historic Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi.”

So far the EAC secretariat has not specified the road map to Burundi reconciliation after presentation of the Comprehensive Report on Inter-Burundi Dialogue by the Facilitator.

A communiqué read at the end of the recent summit in Arusha only confirmed receipt of the report by the regional presidents and that the summit would consult further on the Inter-Burundi Dialogue process”.