Museveni insists on ‘massaging withdrawn Burundi back to warmth’

The East African region cannot give up on Burundi despite the central African nation and member of the regional bloc adopting a casual approach to regional affairs President Museveni has said.

The President said that ahead of his taking up of the chairmanship of the EAC at the heads of state summit later this month in Arusha Tanzania, he will highlight the issue of a joint move to Burundi with the lead facilitator in an effort to urge all stakeholders to engage in dialogue.

Museveni is the mediator on Burundi while former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is the facilitator.

“We need a consensus on Burundi as a region. When I take up the chair of EAC at the next summit, I will raise this issue so that we can have a decision. We should never neglect any opportunity for dialogue. We need to ease tensions with regional players,” Museveni said yesterday after a meeting with Frances’ Director for Africa and Indian Ocean Remi Marechau and its envoy to the Great Lakes region Sophie Makame in London.

The President is in London to attend the International Conference on Somalia.

There has been a growing concern over the political situation in Burundi, the lack of progress in implementing a 2016 resolution and the lack of engagement by the Government of Burundi.

Burundi has withdrawn itself to an almost casual observer of regional affairs, preferring to play with within its courtyard than come out to play.

Burundi’s misgivings against the region started in May 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was in Tanzania for an EAC summit was dramatically ‘overthrown’ in a coup led by Godefroid Niyombare, an army general he had sacked as intelligence chief in three months earlier.

But soldiers loyal to Nkurunziza led by Army Chief of Staff Gen Prime Niyongabo mounted a fight-back that defeated the coup attempt and Nkurunziza returned home after a day in a secret location believed to have been Kampala.

Since then, Burundi has chosen to smother the smoldering smoke from its house as reports of human rights abuses continue to lump against the Nkurunziza government. The Bujumbura establishment blames its woes on the neighbouring Kigali government, who vehemently deny destabilising Burundi.

As Nkurunziza adopted a casual approach to EAC, his government has been flirting with Southern African Development Community (SADC). Burundi applied to join the 15-member southern African bloc earlier this year, but the application was reportedly put on hold with Nkurunziza tasked to first ‘put his house in order’ before the application can be looked into.

However, Museveni is adamant that, with dialogue, Burundi’s cold can be massaged back to warmth and it would actively participate in regional affairs again.



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