Presidential term limit and National Union Government discussed in Arusha

The mediator in the Burundi conflict, William Benjamin Mkapa, organized a session on 16 January in Arusha for different stakeholders in the Burundi crisis. The presidential term limit and formation of a Government of National Union have mainly been discussed among other points, says Bamvuginyumvira, Chairman of opposition party Frodebu.

William Benjamin Mkapa, the facilitator in Burundi conflict

William Benjamin Mkapa, the facilitator in Burundi conflict

After his visit to Bujumbura from 9 to 11 December, during which he declared the legitimacy of the regime in place, Benjamin Mkapa, Former Tanzanian president and mediator in the Burundi crisis, was since then challenged by CNARED, a platform that gathers almost all opposition politicians. He organized, on 16 January in Arusha, a dialogue session that was intended for externally-based opponents and key Burundi political actors who were not able to attend the session held in Bujumbura last December. The facilitator had invited 24 members of CNARED coalition, but only six responded to his invitation.

Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira, Chairman of the opposition party Frodebu, and member of CNARED, said Mkapa denied that he treated those who believe that the regime in place is illegitimate as crazy people. Mkapa explained that Burundians misinterpreted his remarks. “Mkapa said that those who believe that it is he who gives the legitimacy of Pierre Nkurunziza are out of their mind. It is the Burundians and these ambassadors who come to present him letters of accreditation that give him his legitimacy”, says Bamvuginyumvira.

He also says participants have been able to convince the facilitator that Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term violated the Arusha Peace Agreement and the Burundian Constitution and that the issue is to be discussed during upcoming talks. “The controversial third term of Pierre Nkurunziza is the main cause of the current Burundi crisis, the mediation cannot ignore it,” says Bamvuginyumvira.

Bamvugimyumvira states that the facilitator raised the question of the establishment of a “Government of National Union”.

“We asked the facilitator that the Burundian Government and members of the opposition should agree on the composition of this government of national union and its mission,” says the chairman of Frodebu party. For Bamvuginyumvira, the meeting with the mediator was an opportunity to express to him their concerns about his bias in favor to Burundi Government.

“Burundians must understand that it is time to choose peace because it is priceless,” says Jacques Bigirimana, Chairman of FNL political party, the wing close to Bujumbura regime.

He also says “politicians should put forward the interests of the Burundian population.”

Burundi has plunged into a serious crisis since the announcement in April 2015 by President Pïerre Nkurunziza to seek a third controversial term. Since then, violence caused more than 500 deaths and forced more than 300,000 people to flee to neighboring countries, according to international organizations’ reports.