Anti-Nkurunziza Third Term Civil Society accuses Mkapa of excluding them from dialogue

The campaign “Halt to the third term of Pierre Nkurunziza” says Mkapa excludes anti-third term of Pierre Nkurunziza civil society members from peace talks. Vital Nshimirimana, Campaign leader, says that while the mediator in the Burundian conflict is planning a briefing session for externally-based opponents to Burundi regime and key political actors mid January.

Vital Nshimirimana, Burundi civil society activist living in exile

Vital Nshimirimana, Burundi civil society activist living in exile

The inter-Burundian dialogue facilitator Benjamin Mkapa organizes a briefing session that will take place on 16 January in Arusha ,Tanzania for externally-based opposition and key Burundian political actors who, for various reasons, could not attend the consultation session held in Bujumbura last December.

The mediation invited the politicians assembled in the platform of the political opposition, former Burundian presidents namely Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, Domitien Ndayizeye and Pierre Buyoya and other political actors as well.

When Mkapa conducted consultation sessions in Burundi in December, he met with the Burundian President, the government, African ambassadors accredited in Bujumbura, religious leaders, the women’s forum and members of civil societies operating in Burundi.

Vital Nshimirimana, Activist and Chairman of the ‘Campaign Halt to the Third Term of Pierre Nkurunziza’ which organized the protest movement against Nkurunziza’s third term, accuses the facilitator Benjamin Mkapa of excluding members of the campaign from the dialog, which shows that Mkapa does not understand the crux of the Burundi conflict.

“Everyone knows that civil society members were the first to denounce Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term which violated the Arusha Agreement and the Burundian Constitution,” says Nshimirimana.

Nshimirimana says Mkapa invited various participants in the upcoming consultation sessions that will be held in Arusha next week. “I think we are not concerned because even if he invited us we would not attend consultation sessions led by Mkapa himself,” he says.

Nshimirimana says the remarks made by Benjamin Mkapa during his last visit to Bujumbura disqualified him. “The Burundian people have lost confidence in him. He said that the government of Pierre Nkurunziza is legitimate while the illegal and illegitimate third term of Pierre Nkurunziza is the crux of the Burundi problem. So, there’s no need for negotiation because, according to Mkapa, there is no problem,” Nshimirimana says.

He believes that Mkapa seems to be helping Nkurunziza to remain in power in order to govern even a 4th term as he supported Nkurunziza’s wish to amend the Burundian constitution. “No one can deny the Burundian people an internal dialogue or revision of the constitution as it happens all the time in other countries,” says Mkapa during his last visit in Burundi.

Nshimirimana asks that Mkapa be replaced by another mediator in order to find a lasting solution to the Burundi problem.

Since April 2015, Burundi has been plunged into a crisis. UN reported that more than one thousands of people have been killed and around 260,000 Burundians have fled the country to neighboring countries. This crisis started when the ruling party officially announced President Pierre Nkurunziza as the candidate for the 2015 presidential election. Some political opponents and members of civil society accused him of running for an unconstitutional term and violating the ‘Arusha Peace Agreement.