A Burundian opposition group is welcoming the selection of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the new mediator for talks between the government and other stakeholders aimed at ending the almost year-long crisis in Burundi.
The East African Community (EAC), meeting in Arusha, Tanzania Wednesday named the 77-year old Mkapa to hopefully breed new life into the talks, which have been bogged down under the leadership of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
“It’s good news," said Pancras Cimpaye, spokesperson for the National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Accord (CNARED).
"Former President Mkapa knows very well the issues of the Arusha Peace Agreement, and we know that he will do his best so that implementation is a reality,” he said.
Cimpaye denied that Ugandan President Museveni, who had been spearheading the mediation on behalf of the EAC, was being sidelined because of the controversial election in Uganda.
“We saw the statement of the AU. They recognized Museveni as the mediator, but nowadays we realized that Museveni is busy with home affairs. So former president Mkapa is there to help not to be the principal mediator. He’s a co-mediator,” Cimpaye said.
Cimpaye said his group is ready for talks with the government at any time. He hoped former President Mkapa will do his best so that the stalled talks can resume as soon as possible.
“As CNARED, we wish we could have talks even tomorrow morning; even tonight we are ready to go there because we have a big document which shows quite well the roots of CNARED to come back to peace in Burundi. We are ready for talks at any time,” Cimpaye said.
Burundian foreign minister, Alain Nyamitwe told VOA recently his government was not pleased with the choice of CNARED to represent to represent all opposition parties to the talks.
Nyamitwe said CNARED has been involved in violence and has no popular following.