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Burundi Minister Promises Measures to Address Crisis

Armed vigilantes lay on the ground with their rifles as they patrol in the center of Bujumbura, Burundi, Nov. 20, 2015.
Armed vigilantes lay on the ground with their rifles as they patrol in the center of Bujumbura, Burundi, Nov. 20, 2015.

Burundi’s foreign minister said his government will implement swift, positive measures to end the crisis that has beleaguered the country since April this year when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term.

Alain Nyamitwe’s comments followed consultations this week with the European Union. He said while Bujumbura did not get the expected results from the meeting, it appreciates the frank discussions.

“Our expectation going into the consultations was for the EU to pronounce itself very clearly that they were resuming traditional cooperation with us. Notwithstanding, they said they have not frozen the cooperation with us but that they were considering additional measures in case our dialogue with stakeholders did not yield positive results,” he said.

Nyamitwe said his government believes the discussions mark a step forward in Burundi-EU relations because the two had not had any close dialogue in the past seven months

He said Bujumbura is hopeful the dialogue and the measures the government is going to undertake will yield positive results that will not warrant any other negative measures from the EU.

Alain Nyamitwe said his government will expedite investigations into the role of independent media houses that were shut down by what he calls “judicial measures” because of their alleged roles in last May’s alleged failed coup.

“We have accepted that the investigations which have started into the allegations concerning the implication or involvement of some journalists into the coup registration or other illegal activities that those investigations will be conducted swiftly. Now once those investigations will be positive, clarify and clear some of those journalists or radio stations, then they will be cleared to air once again,” Nyamitwe said.

He also said the government will speed up investigations of those who have been jailed for their involvement in anti-government demonstrations and that those found to be innocent would be released.

Meanwhile violence continued Wednesday in the capital. Seven people were reported killed in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura. Police said they shot dead five “insurgents” who they said threw grenades at the police.

The U.N. said at least 240 people have been killed since April.