Burundi Main Opposition Bloc Says It Isn't Invited to Talks

  • Talks between government, opposition to begin Dec. 28
  • U.S. warns of `alternative options' if talks don't resume

Burundi’s main opposition coalition says it hasn’t been invited to negotiations starting next week that seek to end eight months of deadly violence that has killed more than 400 people.

No one from the Cnared group disputing the legality of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term has been asked to join talks beginning Dec. 28 in Uganda, Pancrace Cimpaye, spokesman for the coalition, said by phone. 

“The conflict is between two groups, one opposed to the Burundi president’s third term and those who are defending it,” Cimpaye said. “But the question is why the mediator is enlarging the list of talks’ participants,” he said. Fourteen groups would be participating, he said.

Burundi has been roiled in violence since April, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, a move his opponents say is unconstitutional. The landlocked country holds six percent of the world’s nickel reserves.

Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga said on Saturday Burundi’s government, the opposition and officials of East African countries would meet to discuss a national unity administration and the return of refugees. The negotiations first began on July 19.

The U.S. urged all parties to cooperate with the mediator, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and warned that should the talks not restart, alternative options might be considered by the African Union and United Nations.

Earlier this month, Cnared asked that talks be broadened to include international bodies such as the UN and the African Union.

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