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ELECTION 2022

Africa must be firm to end Burundi violence

EDITORIAL
By The Standard | Dec 29th 2015 | 2 min read

Burundi government representatives and some opposition groups are meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, in a bid to find a solution to the long-running conflict in the country.

Violence has rocked the country since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a controversial third term. Despite loud murmurs both internally and externally, Nkurunziza went ahead to contest in the last June's election and was announced winner after garnering 69.41 per cent of the votes cast.

The poll was boycotted by some opposition candidate who accused the President of violating the constitution by running for a third term.

Since April, about 400 people are reported to have been killed in the surging wave of violence in the country. Over 200,000 people have also been displaced by the conflict.

As the talks get under way in Entebbe, Uganda, Burundians and the global community have their fingers crossed, praying that they will carve out a path to peace for Burundi. However, the government's refusal to hold talks with CNARED, one of the political groups, which it accuses of being behind the failed coup in May and the ongoing attacks against security forces, might undermine the success of the talks.

For the talks to be successful, it is imperative that all parties to the conflict are involved the discussions. In fact, regional leaders must stand up and tell Nkurunziza to stop dictating who should or shouldn't be at the negotiating table.

Importantly, during the meeting expected to be chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, the warring parties must be told to cease their hostilities immediately to give room to the talks that might pave way to a political solution.

In case this is not done, the African Union should forge ahead with its decision to deploy a peacekeeping force in Burundi, despite protests by Nkurunziza.

African countries have a responsibility to stop Burundi from sliding further down the precipice and should allow no one, Nkurunziza included, to stop them from accomplishing the noble mission. No African country should be allowed to go the Rwanda way. Never again.

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