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Burundi talks mediator hopes to meet absent opposition

24 May 2016, 20:51

Nairobi - The mediator tasked with brokering talks to end Burundi's festering political crisis said on Tuesday he hoped to meet the opposition after it was barred from peace negotiations in Tanzania.

Burundian officials, diplomats and civil society groups have been meeting in the Tanzanian town of Arusha since Saturday but key opposition umbrella group CNARED was pointedly not invited.

The Burundian government refused to sit down with key opponents whom it accuses of involvement in a failed May 2015 coup and months of deadly political violence in the central African country.

Benjamin Mkapa, the former Tanzanian president who is mediating the talks, said no deal could be struck without giving all parties the chance to present their views.

"In the next two weeks, I will continue and complete the consultations with those who did not come during this session, but whom I feel might have positive contributions to make to the process," Mkapa said after four days of talks.

While some members of CNARED were invited to Tanzania individually, the organisation as a whole was kept off the list. The group then called on its members to boycott the meetings, though some ultimately decided to attend.

Mpaka said he would also reach out to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the main mediator in the crisis, "to determine the way forward".

He said he expects to convene another dialogue session in the third week of June.

In Arusha, Mpaka applauded the "high degree of civility, patriotism" among participants, and their "great desire to own the dialogue".

Hundreds of people have been killed and a quarter of a million have fled Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial decision in April 2015 to run for a third term, a vote he won amid opposition boycotts in July.




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