Burundi’s ruling party demanded the resignation of a United Nations official trying to help mediate an end to the country’s political crisis, as regional leaders gathered in neighboring Tanzania to discuss the impasse.
Abdoulaye Bathily “has not shown neutrality in his work,” Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe, spokesman for the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy, or CNDD-FDD, said in a statement in the capital, Bujumbura, on Sunday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bathily, a Senegalese diplomat, last month to oversee negotiations between the government and the opposition.
“When he came to Burundi for the first time, he did not visit the authorities or the country’s president,” Ndabirabe said. “He rather met with different foreign ambassadors as if he came to a country that is not independent.”
Unrest broke out in Burundi in April after the CNDD-FDD nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza as its candidate for president in elections scheduled for July 15. Opponents say Nkurunziza’s bid to extend his tenure violates a two-term limit set out in peace agreements that in 2005 brought an end to a 12-year civil war.
The East African Community, a five-nation bloc that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, is holding a summit on Monday to discuss the situation in Burundi. Last week, the UN criticized the Burundian government for failing to create conditions for a “free, fair” vote after the country held parliamentary elections on June 29.
The unrest in Burundi has the potential to destabilize the Great Lakes region that includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top copper and tin producer, and Rwanda, where the economy is still recovering from a genocide in 1994.
During the last EAC summit in May, a group of generals led by the country’s former intelligence chief tried to stage a coup as Nkurunziza attended the meeting. General Leonard Ngendakumana, one of the putchists, said on Sunday opponents of the president are preparing again to remove Nkurunziza from office.
“We are preparing to do it by force by organizing a military force,” Ngendakumana said in an interview with KTN, a Nairobi-based broadcaster.
Calls to Vladimir Monteiro, a spokesman for the UN mission in Burundi, didn’t connect when Bloomberg sought comment.