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Burundi Welcomes UN Delegation

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.
Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza is sworn in for a third term at a ceremony in the parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.

The Burundian government said it welcomes the visit to Bujumbura by members of the U.N. Security Council.

Willy Nyamitwe, senior adviser to President Pierre Nkurunziza, said the United Nations delegation will discover that everything the international community has been hearing about the crisis in Burundi is false.

Nyamitwe said the visiting U.N. Security Council delegation will see for itself that Burundi is at peace as it tries to disarm certain individual who are trying to disturb peace in the country.

“We welcome everybody who needs to come to Burundi and witness how far we’ve gone with consolidation of our national unity and the building or our peace," he said.

UN delegation

Nyamitwe’s comments came as a delegation from the U.N. Security Council left Wednesday for Burundi with a message for the government and opposition to start substantive dialogue and avert a catastrophe before it is too late.

“This is a critical crossroads for Burundi,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told VOA ahead of the trip. “They cannot let it become business as usual that you wake up in the morning and there is a corpse on the street as you try to get to work, and that is what is starting to happen in Burundi.”

It is the second time the Council has visited the country in less than a year a clear indication of its growing concern about the escalating bloodshed.

Nyamitwe said the people of Burundi have already started talking to each other through the inter-Burundian dialogue.

“The government has set up a national commission in charge of this inter-Burundian dialogue. So, this commission has brought together Burundians from all the ethnic groups, all the political parties, from inside and outside the country to go and dialogue on all the issues regarding all the sectors of the country,” he said.

East Africa Community-mediated peace talks that were scheduled to resume on January 6 in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, did not take place because the Burundian government said the date was set by mediators without consulting the government.

The government is also on record as saying it will not negotiate with certain opposition figures who it considers as “coup plotters” or “sponsors of acts of terrorism.”

Follow UN resolution

Nyamitwe said any Burundian can be part of the dialogue as long as they adhere to U.N. Security Council resolution 2248, which calls on the government and all parties to reject violence and refrain from any action that threatens peace and stability.

“Those who are killing innocent people, through bodies in the street, taking the pictures and spreading through the Internet in order to tarnish the image of the country, those are behaving as terrorists; those who are throwing grenades in bars and other public gatherings, those are terrorists,” Nyamitwe said.

Jean Minani, the exiled leader of the Opposition Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) told VOA earlier this month that efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the Burundian crisis are not dead because the Burundian people want peace.

But Minani said President Nkurunziza does not want to negotiate.

“Nkurunziza is the cause of the crisis of Burundi. He’s afraid to come with all the people, with the international community to talk with us because there’s nothing to talk about. He can’t come to talk with us because he knows he has nothing to talk about,” Minani said.

Last month, the African Union announced it would deploy a 5,000-member "prevention and protection" force to Burundi for an initial period of six months. Nyamitwe reiterated his government’s objection to the introduction of peacekeepers, saying it is non-negotiable.

“The population of Burundi has said these troops are not needed. We trust our security forces; we trust our soldiers that they can protect the country’s borders, they can protect the civilians in Burundi, and so far they have never been defeated. All the attacks from outside the country have been defeated within two or three days,” he said.

Nyamitwe said the AU troops should be send to neighboring Rwanda where he said Burundian refugees are being trained to destabilize the Burundian government.

“We are blaming the government of Rwanda for allowing for allowing people to get military training in Rwanda because this cannot happen without the approval of officials in Rwanda, and this a violation of international law. You cannot take a refugee, someone who came to seek refuge in your country and transform him into a rebel,” Nyamitwe said.

'Fact-finding mission'

He said his government has complained to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Union, and the U.N. Security Council.

“We hope that this fact-finding mission from the Security Council will address this issue with Burundi saying that the evil is coming from the outside, not from the inside,” Nyamitwe said.

Nyamitwe said his government has evidence of Rwanda’s involvement in the form of weapons seized from Rwanda and people who it said have been arrested.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied Burundi’s claims that Rwanda is providing refuge for Burundian rebels, an official reportedly saying that Burundi found it “convenient to find responsibility elsewhere.”