Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Burundi opposition boycotting Tanzania peace talks

Burundi opposotion boycotts peace talksBurundi’s main opposition grouping is boycotting peace talks in Tanzania, leaving little chance the negotiations will end simmering political violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.

Burundi has been gripped by unrest since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would stand for a third term, which the opposition said violated the constitution as well as a 2005 peace deal ending the civil war.

He won a vote largely boycotted by the opposition, but protests sparked a government crackdown that killed more than 700 people, displaced over 400,000 to neighbouring countries and left the economy moribund.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating whether pro-government forces committed war crimes including murder, torture and rape. Burundi, which has withdrawn from the court, is refusing to recognise the investigation.

Exiled opposition grouping CNARED said former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, who is facilitating the November 28 to December 8 round of talks in Arusha, did not invite them.

“We have always asked the facilitator to invite CNARED as an opposition bloc, but he refused and decided to select some of our members who will take part in the dialogue without our consent,” said CNARED spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye.

At the end of October, Burundi’s cabinet adopted draft legislation seeking to change the current constitution to allow Nkurunziza to run for a fourth term in the 2020 election.

The proposed amendments, likely to go to a referendum by next year, seek to abolish the two-term limit and lengthen the presidential terms to seven years.

CNARED says amending the constitution will worsen the crisis.

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