Muted Response to Nkurunziza’s Third Term Amid Calls for Talks to Resume

A week after President Pierre Nkurunziza’s inauguration only a few leaders had sent messages of congratulations as he started his third term in office.

Foreign ministries in the region told The EastAfrican that they are yet to deliver formal messages of congratulations. Reports indicate that Russia and China congratulated the president.

Some Western countries have expressed concern over the conduct of the parliamentary and presidential polls.

No head of state was present at the swearing-in ceremony last Thursday; the US and the EU were represented by junior diplomats.

Kenya, Tanzania and Egypt were represented by their ambassadors, and South Africa sent Deputy Security Minister Ellen Molekane.

Seeking to forestall a diplomatic fallout in the region from his decision to form a new government in the middle of peace talks, President Nkurunziza sent emissaries to Kampala.

Agathon Rwasa, his former rival turned ally, and Pascal Nyabenda, the president of the national assembly, were in Kampala last week for a visit whose purpose authorities in the two capitals have refused to reveal.

It is also not known whether the leaders met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Sources in Kampala and Bujumbura said the visit was likely to be about resumption of talks.

Leonard Nyangoma, the chair of the armed opposition group National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Agreement and Rule of Law, has called for talks.

Burundi’s foreign minister said the position of the government is that the talks never stopped.

“Dialogue does not have to be monitored by external actors. The most important thing is for us to agree on the basic principles to govern institutions,” said Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Nyamitwe, in an interview with The EastAfrican.

“Discussions moved on positively with the forming of the government of national unity,” he added.

By Moses Havyarimana and Trevor Analo

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Source: The East African

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