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Burundi talks suspended after govt. fails to turn up

Iran Press TV

Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:47PM

Planned negotiations between Burundi's government and opposition groups aimed at resolving a major political turmoil have been suspended after the ruling party failed to show up for the scheduled meeting, a Ugandan mediator says.

Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is attempting to mediate the negotiation, said on Sunday the suspension came after the Burundi's government team decided against attending the talks.

'Today, we have adjourned sine die, because yesterday we agreed that we will all be here by nine o'clock in the morning. We have been waiting, we have been making calls and we have not seen anyone from government,' the minister said, adding, 'Since dialogue takes two parties, the absence means we have to hold until the government is ready to continue the dialogue. The dialogue is not over... we have to be patient, we give the benefit of the doubt to the government.'

Talks between Burundi's government and opposition were planned to resolve a major political turmoil over a controversial presidential bid by incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza's for a third consecutive term in office.

Burundi's Interior Minister Edouard Nduwimana earlier on Sunday signaled that the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party, led by President Nkurunziza, could abandon the negotiations with opposition groups altogether.

Reacting to developments, a source from the five-nation East African Community (EAC) warned that the process now appeared to be 'dead,' adding, 'The security situation could degenerate at any moment.'

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was recently appointed as mediator by the EAC. On Wednesday, the Ugandan defense minister took over mediation efforts started by Museveni a day earlier.

The Burundian government has failed to meet the opposition demands. The opposition groups are demanding that the results of last month's parliamentary elections be nullified and the upcoming presidential election be postponed.

The parliamentary elections on June 29 went ahead in the African country despite an international outcry.

This is while the key presidential election is due to take place in the impoverished central African nation on Tuesday.

The administration of President Nkurunziza has so far refused any further delay in the presidential election.

The opposition argues that weeks of violent crackdown on protesters by security forces means free and fair elections are impossible. The opposition groups have until now stood by their plans to boycott the presidential polls, leaving only the ruling CNDD-FDD and its affiliated parties to compete for the presidency.

The political turmoil in Burundi began in late April, when Nkurunziza announced his decision to run for a controversial third consecutive term in office. The bid has sparked months of turmoil and an attempted coup in mid-May.

Political opponents of the incumbent president say the decision is unconstitutional and violates the 2000 Arusha Accord, which provided a framework to end the civil war in the country.

At least 100 people have been killed and more than 150,000 people have fled Burundi due to the growing insecurity and a fierce government crackdown on demonstrations over the past months.



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