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Burundi factions hold talks in Uganda


President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza.

President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza.

RIVAL Burundi factions have held peace talks in Uganda, resuming long-stalled negotiations aimed at ending months of violence that has raised fears of a return to civil war.

Burundi’s unrest began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term, which he went on to win in July.

The talks held yesterday in Uganda’s presidential palace in Entebbe, just outside the capital Kampala, were chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, who is acting as the regional mediator in the crisis.

AFP quoted Museveni saying at the meeting, “I really appeal to you, the two sides, to sit down and have a political solution so that you save the people from the suffering.” “You have no excuse not to sit down and quickly resolve… these are clear things, you can meet one afternoon and agree,” he said.

However, the meeting on Monday was expected to only lay the groundwork for longer negotiations next month in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.

The 54-member African Union (AU) had said it will send in a 5,000-strong force to halt the violence, despite Burundi’s government calling the proposed peacekeeping mission an “invasion force”.

Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain-Aime Nyamitwe is leading the government delegation at the talks.

The opposition delegates include members of CNARED, a coalition that presents itself as upholding the Arusha peace agreement that ended more than a decade of civil war in 2006, and which its says Nkurunziza has undermined. “CNARED requires above all an immediate end to the massacres, because we cannot negotiate while people are about to be killed,” CNARED spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye said, calling for the “immediate deployment” of the proposed AU force.

Leading civil society members, including exiled human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa and a number of religious leaders, are also taking part in the negotiations.

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