SABC News - Regional leaders to meet over Burundi crisis:Wednesday 13 May 2015

Regional leaders to meet over Burundi crisis

Wednesday 13 May 2015 05:39

Sarah Kimani, Tanzania

 The protests began after President Pierre Nkurunziza's party elected him to run for a third term

The protests began after President Pierre Nkurunziza's party elected him to run for a third term.(REUTERS)

Hopes are high that East African leaders meeting in Tanzania on Wednesday will end three weeks of violent protests and a political crisis in Burundi.

The meeting comes amid rising tension in Burundi and calls for the postponement of the Presidential polls set for next month.

The protests began after President Pierre Nkurunziza's party elected him to run for a third term. His opponents say that decision is unlawful.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and United States (US) Assistant secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield are among leaders in Dar es Salaam who will deliberate on how best to avert a regional and humanitarian crisis.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Nomaindia Mfeketo says, "We would want to see peace prevailing, we would want to see a decision that will at least stop what we are seeing in that country that is concerning all of us. But most importantly we are coming to listen and advice, not impose ideas we respect the country's systems."

Aid agencies say at least 19 people have been killed and more than 200 wounded during violent protests against President Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.

In the face of growing rebellion, Nkurunziza has remained defiant, dismissing calls for an election delay.

Peace mediators Tanzania and South Africa have warned of the risk of renewed fighting in Burundi, if President Nkurunziza's party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces (CNDD – FDD) does not obey the Arusha Peace agreement, which prevents any president from running for more than two terms.

What we want to see for Burundi is unity among the actors


Institute of Security Studies Researcher, Dr. Yolande Bouka says,  "The Arusha Agreement is a peace agreement, by violating the peace treaty the CNDD-FDD is opening the door for other actors to say, well to say since the CNDD-FDD is not abiding by the treaty we are not obliged to abide by the treaty."

“What we want to see for Burundi is unity among the actors, a firm decision either to force mediation between the actors or if indeed the AU and the EAC believe that Nkurunziza should not run for an additional they need to be forceful about various scenarios on how the CNDD-FDD should get another candidate."

Nkurunziza says he is eligible to run for another term as he was not elected directly during his first term.

The Dar es Salaam summit will seek an end to weeks of violence and a political solution to the ongoing crisis.

Nkurunziza has asked the international community to respect a constitutional court ruling, which cleared his third term bid, but opponents have questioned the neutrality of the court.

Human rights groups have warned that the pre-election violence is worrying. They want the region to press for Nkurunziza to allow freedom of assembly and that of the media.

Already Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo are hosting 50 000 refugees from the Central African country, most of them women and children.

Related Articles: Burundi Protests, by sabcnewsonline

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