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Mkapa flies to Brussels in fresh bid to end Burundi strife

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |

A former Tanzanian president mediating talks to end Burundi’s deadly crisis will meet the opposition this weekend in a bid to end the deadlock, diplomatic and opposition sources said Tuesday.

Benjamin Mkapa is to hold talks in Brussels with members of CNARED, which groups almost all opposition parties, they said.

“We welcome the fact that the mediator will meet CNARED members in Brussels on Friday and Saturday,” the group’s spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye told AFP from Brussels.

Western and African diplomats confirmed that Mkapa would meet with opposition figures this week.

Hundreds of people have been killed and a quarter of a million others have fled Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision in April 2015 to run for a third term, a vote he won amid opposition boycotts in July.

Mkapa talks 3
Mkapa consults Uganda president Museveni soon after he was put in charge of the talks. Museveni guided them before.

Peace negotiations were held in Arusha in Tanzania in April, but CNARED was pointedly not invited.

The Burundian government refuses to sit down with key opponents whom it accuses of involvement in a failed May 2015 coup and months of deadly political violence in the central African country.

Some members of CNARED were invited to the Arusha talks individually but the organisation as a whole was kept off the list.

Spokesman Cimpaye said the group would ask that a Burundian official from the six-nation East African Community regional bloc be axed from the group of mediators as he is close to the government.

“We will then present (Mkapa) our roadmap,” Cimpaye said.

Mpaka has said he expects to convene another dialogue session in the third week of June.

“In the next two weeks, I will continue and complete the consultations with those who did not come… but who I feel might have positive contributions to make to the process,” Mpaka said.

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