Burundi gov't boycotts Tanzania talks aimed to settle country's 2015 crisis
The Burundian government has decided to boycott talks due in Arusha, Tanzania on Feb. 16-18, aimed at settling the east African country's 2015 crisis, the Burundian government said Wednesday night in a statement.
"The Burundian government will not send delegates to the Arusha talks due on Feb. 16-18 this year. Burundian citizens need international solidarity, but they have the right to be respected during their choice in the dialogue process," Burundian Government Spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said in the statement.
According to him, invitations of participants to the talks to be held under the auspices of former Tanzanian President and facilitator in the inter-Burundi talks Benjamin Mkapa were characterized by irregularities.
"There are irregularities on the organization of the session notably on who should be invited to the talks and their agenda. Some of the invited participants are sued by the Burundian judiciary for their involvement in disrupting Burundi's security," Nzobonariba said in the statement.
Besides, said Nzobonariba in the statement, the other issue is the denomination of political parties some participants will represent, stressing that they are not political parties registered at the Home Affairs Ministry.
According to him, the other concern is the possible participation, in the talks, of Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General in Burundi, who was rejected by the Burundian government in December 2016.
Nzobonariba indicated that the Burundian government had requested his replacement.
This session of Arusha talks is expected to analyze eight issues including the respect of the Burundian constitution, the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Burundian citizens who fled the 2015 crisis and the formation of a government of unity.
Burundi plunged into a crisis since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term in violation of the national constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement that ended a decade-long civil war.
More than 500 people in Burundi have been killed and over 300,000 people fled to neighboring countries mostly Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda since the outbreak of the crisis.