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
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.