AU to the rescue of dialogue?

Smaël Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security conducted a visit to Burundi from 5 to 7 November. His passage seems far from saving the deadlocked inter-Burundian dialogue.

Smaël Chergui reaffirms the commitment of the AU to supporting Burundi.

Smaël Chergui reaffirms the commitment of the AU to supporting Burundi.

His arrival was not hugely talked about. Smaël Chergui came to Bujumbura in a particular context: the day after the fiasco of Ngurdoto talks. Through the principle of subsidiarity, the AU delegated the Burundian issue to the East African Community. For the moment, it is struggling to make progress. Some already speak of a failure of the regional mediation. Is Mr Chergui coming to the rescue of the inclusive dialogue in difficulties?

Several voices within the Burundian opposition continue calling for greater involvement of the AU in seeking a solution to the Burundian crisis. “It is high time the AU and UN took over. The principle of subsidiarity no longer works on this issue, “said Tatien Sibomana , a Burundian political actor at the end of the fifth round of dialogue.

During his stay in Burundi, the Algerian diplomat officially met three high level authorities of the country: Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defense. Throughout his talks, the emissary reaffirmed the AU “commitment” to “promoting support” to ensure inclusive dialogue and creating a peaceful environment conducive to freedom of expression and return of refugees. The question of sanctions was also talked about.

He came me to see the blockage

However, Ambassador Chergui could not meet President Pierre Nkurunziza as “agreed”. The reason was that the Head of State had a lot of things to do and could not therefore get time for him. Nevertheless, the first vice president received him “informally”. Apart from government officials, only the former President of the Republic Sylvestre Ntibantunganya had a short private talk with Ambassador Chergui. He didn’t meet with any leader of a political party of the governing camp or that of the opposition.

For an informed observer of the Burundian political scene, the visit of this African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security is very important because it is in line with the decisions of the AU Heads of State at the Nouakchott summit.

The latter had asked “the commission to back Burundi and contribute with the East African Community, to its efforts for an inclusive dialogue and the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights”. Bujumbura still seems inflexible. Its position remains the same.

For the government, the only merit of the passage of Chergui is to find the deadlock of the inter Burundi dialogue. “What will the UN and AU do now?” wonders Bujumbura.


Léonce Ngendakumana: “The failure of the EAC is that of the AU”

Leonce Ngendakumana“All that the African Union can do for Burundi now is to realize that the government of Bujumbura is not engaged on the path of dialogue,” says the vice president of FRODEBU party. For him, democracy, unity and cohesion of the Burundian people are at stake. He reminds that the failure of the inter Burundian dialogue is also the failure of the AU which had mandated the region to help Burundians resolve the crisis which, according to Mr. Ngendakumana, was triggered by CNDD-FDD power in 2015.



Sylvestre Ntibantunganya: “Dialogue has never been easy”

DSC_1410He is the only personality who, apart from government officials, met the AU envoy. “I wanted to understand the position of the African Union after the 5th dialog session in Arusha and share mine too, so that the process goes in the direction that brings back confidence among the people.”
For this former president, the dialogue has never been easy. The leaders of the country as well as those of the different political parties or civil society, must understand that Burundians are tired. They must not believe that nothing will be possible if the international community does not intervene. In any case, he says, losers and winners remain Burundians.



Jean-Claude Karerwa Ndenzako: “Dialogue is a matter for Burundians”

JEAN CLAUDE NDENZAKOFor the spokesman for the President of Burundi, the fact that Ambassador Chergui was not received by the President is not alarming. “He met ministers who will be able to convey the message to the President,” he said. On the subject of the dialogue, he explains that it is a matter for the Burundian people. For him, a foreigner cannot advance or hinder the outcome of the dialogue.

Written by Arnaud Igor Giriteka and translated by

Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana