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Regional Heads of State to Meet Sunday on Burundi Crisis

  • Peter Clottey

A soldier fires an AK-47 rifle during a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term, in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 25, 2015.

A soldier fires an AK-47 rifle during a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term, in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 25, 2015.

East African regional leaders plan to hold a summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Sunday.

High on the agenda will be a discussion on the report by a team of ministers on the situation in Burundi, according to Assah Mwambene, spokesman for the government of Tanzania.

He said the leaders would try to find solutions to the crisis in the East African country following increasing unrest.

“It will deliberate on the report of the chair of the ministers council, who went on a fact-finding mission in Burundi,” said Mwambene. “The meeting will assess the situation in Burundi and possibly come up with a road map on how best to resolve the standoff.”

Some Burundians say it is unlikely that embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza will attend the summit because of the attempt to overthrow his administration while he was away on a recent heads-of-state summit in Tanzania.

But Mwambene said Nkurunziza is expected to be at the meeting.

“This is an EAC [East Africa Community] meeting, and it is a summit that involves all the heads of state. So the Burundian president, as one of the heads of state in the EAC, would most likely be one of them, because it is a [regional] summit of heads of state,” he said.

Opposition and civil society groups have called on the leaders to expedite action to restore peace in Burundi before the country is plunged into another round of ethnic violence or possible genocide.

They have expressed concern that other opponents of the ruling CNDD-FDD party could be targeted following the recent assassination of Zedi Feruzi, leader of the opposition Union for Peace and Development (UPD).

Mwambene said the regional leaders have called for calm after urging all stakeholders to hold talks to end violence in the streets.

“When the heads of state met two weeks ago, they also expressed deep concern with the escalating violence in Burundi,” said Mwambene.

“The most important aspect is that we are only seeing that the way forward in resolving the conflict in Burundi is for the warring parties to come to terms to reject violence as a move to demand whatever they demand in Burundi. We don’t expect the heads of state to come up with a [solution] if the two warring parties in Burundi are not willing at all to say violence no more,” he added.

Mwambene said there is a need for all the stakeholders to respect the Burundi constitution and to implement the road map to resolve the political crisis.

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