In search for peace

Ugandan president heads to Burundi for crisis
election talks
By AFP

image

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni flew to Burundi
Tuesday for crisis talks, as President Pierre Nkurunziza
readied for a third term bid in polls next week following
months of violence.
Museveni, appointed mediator last week by the five-nation
East African Community (EAC), is to push stalled talks
between Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-FDD party and
opposition groups.
The veteran Ugandan leader said in a statement as he left
for Burundi he would “establish a dialogue among warring
political factions.”
But with the presidential elections now scheduled for July
21, Museveni has been left with only a few days to
succeed.
Nkurunziza’s bid to stand for a third consecutive five-year
term, despite a constitutional two-term limit, has sparked
months of civil unrest and an attempted coup in mid-May.
Opposition groups say another term would violate a peace
deal that paved the way to end a dozen years of civil war
in 2006. There are fears the current crisis could plunge the
impoverished, landlocked country back into civil war.
Both sides have made clear that their positions will not
change.
Museveni must convince the president to step down, said
opposition leader Leonce Ngendakumana. “It is black and
white,” he said.
Presidential communication advisor Willy Nyamitwe said he
hoped Museveni would convince the opposition to take
part in polls.
Parliamentary polls, in which Nkurunziza’s ruling CNDD-
FDD scored a widely-expected landslide win, were held on
May 29 but boycotted by the opposition and internationally
condemned.
Over 70 people have been killed in more than two months
of protests, with over 158,000 refugees fleeing to
neighbouring countries, according to the latest UN figures.
On Monday, security forces said they had arrested around
170 suspected rebels and seized a number of weapons
after clashes in the northern provinces of Kayanza and
Cibitoke.
Provincial governor Aline Maniratunga said around 30
supporters of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa were
arrested in the operation.
Burundian troops fought with rebel soldiers near the border
with Rwanda over the weekend, and paraded around 80 of
them in front of the media.
Burundian rebel general Leonard Ngendakumana — who
took part in the failed coup in May to topple Nkurunziza —
has confirmed that soldiers loyal to the coup plot were
involved in the fighting.
Opposition and rights groups argue that weeks of protests
and a violent crackdown by security forces mean free and
fair elections are impossible.
The country has also been left without most of its
independent media outlets, after several radio stations
were attacked and destroyed in fighting during the
attempted coup.
Museveni, who has led Uganda since 1986 and is one of
Africa’s longest-serving rulers, is himself seeking re-
election in polls next year.

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