The Burundian government and political opposition groups are committed to resolving the disputes that have flared into violence, with a less than week left before a presidential vote that sparked the unrest, a mediator said. Discussions between the groups, which have included civil society activists, opposition parties and three former presidents, are making progress and they aim to report back with proposals as soon as possible, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. Museveni, who was picked by the five-nation East African Community to mediate an end to the political crisis, led efforts for two days in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and his defense minister, Crispus Kiyonga, will arrive on Thursday to take over that role.
The unrest in Burundi was sparked by an announcement in late April that President Pierre Nkurunziza will run for re-election, a decision that opponents say violates a two-term limit stipulated in a 2005 peace accord that ended a 12-year civil war. Nkurunziza’s supporters say his first term doesn’t count because he was endorsed by parliament and not elected by the public. The announcement sparked clashes between protesters and security forces, leaving at least 77 people dead, and led to a failed coup.
The East African Community, comprising Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, has called for elections to be delayed to July 30, from the current date of July 21, to give mediation a chance of succeeding. The United Nations has warned that the crisis puts Burundi at risk of escalating violence.