Burundi Factions Meet in Uganda as Crisis Enters Ninth Month

  • Government, opposition delegates meeting to discuss solution
  • Violence spurred by president's third term has left 400 dead

Burundi’s political factions restarted talks in Uganda in a bid to end a crisis in the East African nation sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term that’s left at least 400 people dead since late April.

Representatives of Burundi’s government and opposition are due to discuss a national-unity administration and the return of refugees, among other issues, in the talks mediated by the East African Community, according to Uganda Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga. The main opposition coalition, Cnared, says it hadn’t been invited.

Opening statements were broadcast on Uganda’s NBS Television on Monday. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was chosen as chief mediator by the five-nation EAC in July. The African Union, European Union and United Nations also support the negotiations.

Burundi, home to 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, descended into violence eight months ago, when Nkurunziza announced plans to run for re-election in a vote that he subsequently won. Opponents say he violated a two-term limit set out in accords that ended a civil war in 2005. The African Union seeks to send as many as 5,000 peacekeepers to quell the bloodshed, a move Burundi’s government has rejected.

The head of Burundi’s ruling party, Pascal Nyabenda, has called for the talks to continue in Burundi and involve all the country’s citizens. The idea was rejected by Charles Nditije, leader of an opposition faction, in comments to reporters Sunday before he traveled to Uganda.

The government won’t accept the idea that Tanzania hosts the discussions from Jan. 6, according to a post on a government Twitter account on Monday.

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