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Ugandan defence minister arrives in Burundi to continue mediation efforts

AFP Photo/Peter Busomoke

Uganda’s Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga on Friday arrived in Burundi’s capital to continue mediation efforts to help end the crisis, according to a spokesman. Kiyonga’s trip to Bujumbura comes a day after the UN adopted a resolution that called for urgent talks and floated the possibility of sending peacekeepers to try and stop the violence.

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Kiyonga arrived in Bujumbura for “consultations on the situation and the peace process in Burundi”, Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told RFI by telephone. Kiyonga is acting as lead mediator on behalf of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who is at the forefront of efforts for the East African Community.

The Ugandan defence minister had on Wednesday held a meeting with the European Union delegation and EU ambassadors in Uganda about Burundi, according to Opondo.

“We hope that he is going to be there today and tomorrow and then return. After that he will give the outcome, he will know how to move with that process forward,” the spokesman said.

On Thursday, the UN, EU and African Union had issued a joint statement calling for a continuation of dialogue with Burundi’s government and the opposition held outside of the country.

“We agreed on the urgency to convene a meeting of the Burundian government and opposition representatives in Addis Ababa, or in Kampala under the chairmanship of President Museveni," according to a statement from officials at the three organisations.

Uganda’s government spokesman would not be drawn into a discussion on whether they support such an initiative. “As to the preferred venue, I think Dr Kiyonga will give that when he returns from Bujumbura,” Opondo said, adding that “maybe that proposal was made” during Kiyonga’s meeting with EU ambassadors.

The continuation of mediation efforts led by Uganda comes a day after a Kenya envoy sent by President Uhuru Kenyatta returned from Bujumbura. Envoy Joseph Nyagah told RFI that it was “very important that the two opposing sides keep talking”.

Some 240 have been killed since Burundi’s crisis began in April with more than 200,000 people having fled the country. Violence was sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to run for a third term in office.

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