Talks between Burundi’s government and opposition aimed at resolving a major crisis over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial re-election bid were suspended on Sunday after the government failed to turn up, the Ugandan mediator said.
“Today, we have adjourned sine die, because yesterday we agreed that we will all be here by nine o’clock in the morning. We have been waiting, we have been making calls and we have not seen anyone from government,” said Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, while addressing press in the capital Bujumbura yesterday.
“Since dialogue takes two parties the absence means we have to hold until the government is ready to continue the dialogue. The dialogue is not over… we have to be patient, we give the benefit of the doubt to the government.”
He added: “There must be a reason for which they were absent. Even if the elections will be held on Tuesday, the dialogue will continue.”
The East Africa Commission had already sent observers to monitor the elections on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Burundi opposition leaders Former presidents Domitien Ndayizeye, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and former Speaker of Parliament Jean Minani, have announced their withdraw from Burundi elections.
They have also been joined by Agathon Rwasa, Agathon Rwasa is a Burundian politician and the leader of the National Liberation Forces (Forces pour la Libération Nationale, FNL) who also declared not to participate in the election.
The letter announcing their pullout from Tuesday’s election is the latest blow to the country’s political system which has been rocked by months of violence after the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term — a move critics are calling unconstitutional.
In the letter to the electoral commission, they say the political and security environment could not guarantee free and fair elections.
Opposition leaders have complained that they have been unable to campaign because of intimidation by government security agents.
Prosper Ntahorwamiye, the commission spokesman told AFP that he had received the letter but the names of the candidates will remain in the ballot papers which had already been printed and distributed.
Nkurunziza chose to spend Saturday, the last day of the campaigns, in his home town Ngozi, watching a soccer match between local teams.
The opposition says Nkurunziza must go after serving his two constitutionally-allowed terms.
Nearly 144,000 refugees have fled Burundi since April fearing election violence.