Arusha, end of story

The “5th and last session of the inter-Burundian dialogue” boycotted by Bujumbura, CNDD-FDD and its allies has been concluded. Only the opposition was at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge. Return on an announced failure of the regional mediation. By Abbas Mbazumutima, Iwacu special envoy.

It is at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha where the opposition members met for their meal around the facilitator Mkapa.

Facilitator Mkapa in a meeting with the special envoys.

Facilitator Mkapa in a meeting with the special envoys.

This former Tanzanian head of state, soon turning 80, knows it and says it: he plays his last card.
The session which was scheduled to start on October 24 was quickly postponed for the next day. 24 hours more to wait for some signals from the Burundian government. A wasted effort.
Bujumbura could not be in Ngurdoto. The reasons given: the country is in mourning, the facilitation does not meet the requirements of the Burundian government to provide the list of participants and the agenda of this decisive round.

In the meantime, the facilitation office did not stop activities: Mkapa received all the “special envoys” in discretion. They were several diplomats sent by countries and organizations that support and follow closely the process of resolution of the Burundian crisis.

The trio around Mkapa, consisting of its chief adviser, Ambassador David Kapya, former Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Burundi, Brigadier General Francis Mndolwa and Kenya’s Ambassador to Burundi, Ken Vitisia, close to the government led by President Nkurunziza, multiplies audiences and interviews. This includes “Key-players”, former dignitaries, diplomats and other special envoys in Ngurdoto.

Meanwhile, various delegations exchange informally. Chauvineau Mugwengezo who still calls himself the president of UPD Zigamibanga party discusses with the representative of PARENA party, Zénon Manirakiza before giving an interview to the journalists.

Marina Barampama, Former Vice-President, speaks with Ambassador Mndolwa from the facilitation office. Pancrace Cimpaye of the other wing of CNARED platform with Charles Nditije and François Nyamoya of MSD party discuss with the president of the MRC, Juvenal Ngorwanubusa and the president of Ranac, with the president of Alide, Joseph Ntidendereza and representatives of Rades, Paribu and the President of PML Abanyamwete party.

“Some have suddenly become old”

There were two duos: Evariste Ngayimpenda and Tatien Sibomana of Amizero y’Abarundi coalition did not leave each other. There were also other inseparable ones: Léonard Nyangoma of CNDD party and William Munyembabazi.

Aime Magera, close to Agathon Rwasa does not move away from his boss when he is called for a private audience with the facilitation.

The envoys of Dr. Jean Minani, president of CNARED, Pamphile Muderega, Gervais Rufyikiri, Anicet Niyonkuru, Aline Ndenzako and Mireille Mizero discussed for a long time in their corners. They were grumbling, writing a lot of text messages. They were interrupted only by the trio around facilitator Mkapa and the two former Heads of State, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and Domitien Ndayizeye.

These negotiators, veterans of Arusha I, were able to convince them to sign the ”proposal for a way out of the crisis ” in front of their first and last names like everyone else but not as sent by CNARED. They struggled, went back and forth to find these delegates of the radical opposition in exile.

Among the veterans of Arusha I, present in Ngurdoto, there was Joseph Karumba, long time leader of FROLINA, Godefroid Hakizimana, president of PSD and Léonce Ngendakumana, former president of the National Assembly, now deputy of Pierre-Claver Nahimana, president of Sahwanya FRODEBU party, had several times a tête-à-tête with the former head of state, Domitien Ndayizeye.

This party that has just left the opposition platform in exile- CNARED is ready for the elections in 2020 whatever might happen. He repeated it in Ngurdoto but with a nuance: “This does not prevent us from collaborating with all the organizations, both inside and outside, committed to resolving the current Burundian crisis”.

Some delegations from the interior of the country began to whisper that x person has “suddenly grown older” than others,.. The former rebel leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, who turned up a little late in Ngurdoto, quickly joined the groups and could sometimes be seen with the former Vice President Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira and some other time with Chauvineau Mugwengezo and other members of the opposition. It was a rather cordial atmosphere.

Silence broken

Facilitator Mkapa even gave an interview to the press where he insisted on dialogue, the diplomatic way instead of the use of force as it seems to favor some politicians disappointed by the impasse and the failure of the facilitation. “Bujumbura should be engaged in the dialogue. One should not have to resort to violence with all that this implies. I know what I am saying,” he said.

In the afternoon of October 24, Mkapa’s chief advisor, Ambassador Kapya, announced the absence of the government in this round: “No signal from Bujumbura”. There was no surprise.

Some delegates from CNARED

Some delegates from CNARED

Comments arose from everywhere: “The boycott of Bujumbura is something positive because it allowed all the opposition members to speak with one voice, to form a front without the government and its acolytes who would have probably used maneuvers to divide us. We are on the same wavelength,” says Pancrace Cimpaye from CNARED platform.

Others say that it is clear that Bujumbura government does not want peace, that this process of dialogue is the last of its concerns. “We are in Ngurdoto and all Bujumbura finds good is to mourn for the late Ndadaye, 25 years after his death.”

Mkapa’s senior advisor later announced the opening of the 5th session for October 25. But given the different interviews and exchanges, this round seemed already started. When the facilitator was about to enter the conference room where different delegations were waiting for him, he announces that there would be the EAC anthem, the Burundi anthem and a little meditation so as to pray for this process.
When, “Burundi Bwacu” the national anthem was about to be sung, everyone stood straight and started to sing. It was a solemn moment of patriotic fervor.

Obviously, these delegates were not too disappointed when Mkapa announced that it was his last session that he was at the “end of his efforts”. He would have done whatever it takes to convince Bujumbura not to be absent in this round of dialog, to no avail.

He then asked these opponents to prepare a road map in light of the roadmaps of Kayanza and Entebbe “so that in his final report to the mediator and the summit of the Heads of State of the region, he should make a compilation of the roadmap of Kayanza and that which they would produce”.

It is after the departure of the facilitator that the Burundian consul in Arusha, Amos Ndimurwanko went to Ngurdoto, “to greet friends”. When he got out of his car, many politicians, teasingly, shouted in unison that “the government was represented”.

Mkapa or the war of the roadmaps

The former Tanzanian Head of State would have done everything to convince Bujumbura. The Burundian government still jibs when some names on its blacklist are among those who are invited to the dialogue.
Consequently, Mkapa never succeeded in putting the envoys of Bujumbura and its detractors in the same room. Not even in one hotel. “He was also unable to define the parties to the conflicts. He did not have any support from the mediator, let alone the summit of Heads of State and that is why he bowed out. He is tired of this process and he has said it to anyone who wanted to hear it, “said an opposition member.

William Benjamin Mkapa, in consultation with members of his office

William Benjamin Mkapa, in consultation with members of his office

“He had resigned during the last summit of the heads of state of the region but they forced him to organize this round of opponents.”

But for his “5th and last session” of Ngurdoto, the facilitator succeeded in inviting most “black sheep” as political actors or representatives of their parties, especially those who have not yet been ousted. A small battle won. Nobody among the CNARED camp mentions their entity before their signature.
The delegates present at Ngurdoto say a ” proposal for a way out of the crisis ” was drafted after the presentation of the consensual road map of the whole opposition behind closed doors. They were not fooled. “No need bringing this document to Museveni and his colleagues. We have reserved a copy to the UN and AU. They are guarantors of the Arusha Agreement. They must take over without wasting time. ”

Another equation: regional friendship and disenchantment

This is what Anicet Niyonkuru, executive secretary of CNARED said: “The facilitation has thoroughly failed”. Same opinion from the side of Amizero y’Abarundi coalition.

According to Tatien Sibomana, it is high time the UN and the AU took over. “It is clear that the region has failed. We must move into a high gear. The principle of subsidiarity no longer works for this issue “. According to Pierre-Claver Nahimana, president of Sahwanya FRODEBU party, the real dialogue will begin after this failure.

A diplomat interviewed said it would be difficult for the Heads of state of the region to meet to look into the Burundian crisis: “There are some who are at loggerheads, not to mention the poor diplomatic relations between Bujumbura and Kigali, which further makes it difficult for the AU led by the Rwandan president, to tackle this issue. It’s embarrassing, a thorn in the organization’s side. ”

According to this analyst, there will have to be other means of pressure, otherwise all these roadmaps risk rotting in the drawers to the delight of Bujumbura government. “Meanwhile, 2020 is fast approaching. There will be other priorities, other constraints, other alliances, other surprises.”

Written by Abbas Mbazumutima and translated by

Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana


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