A glimmer of hope to end political crisis in Burundi

29Feb 2016
The Guardian
A glimmer of hope to end political crisis in Burundi

THE United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the decision last week by the President of Burundi to withdraw some media bans, cancel arrest warrants and release detainees as goodwill gestures to try to end months of violence in the crisis-torn country.

Speaking at a press conference in Burundi, Ban said that President Pierre Nkurunziza told him this that, among other measures, he will release a list of 1,200 detainees.

"This is an encouraging step," the UN chief said, emphasizing that he would expect that additional measures should be taken.Ban said that at his invitation, representatives of the political actors, from both the government ruling party and opposition party, sat down together to discuss Burundi's future, and promised to engage in inclusive dialogue.

The appointment of South Africa as head of the High Panel to Burundi is a step in the right direction towards restoring peace and stability in the currently volatile region. South Africa should play a key and leading role in resolving the crisis, especially considering the unnecessary deaths of fellow Africans due to political and ethnic unrest.

We urge South Africa to use its standing on the continent and our long-held commitment to human rights-based foreign policy to ensure that genocide and ethnic civil war is averted in Burundi, and that the African Union (AU) deploys a peacekeeping force in the area.

Furthermore we implore the South African government to appeal Burundian President Nkurunziza to adhere to the Constitution and call for dialogue with opposition parties and stakeholders, in order to resolve the political crisis.

The appointment of the South African government to the High Panel comes in the wake of the Democratic Alliance’s call for the President to take up a personal role in resolving the Burundi conflict.

The DA has been concerned by the Presidency's congratulatory statement to President Nkurunziza for winning the Burundi elections, which have been riddled by controversy and a lack of transparency, especially considering that Nkurunziza's standing for a fifth term has been the cause of outrage and violence in the country.

Assisting in resolving this conflict presents an opportunity for South Africa to impress upon the world that South Africa proudly upholds the supremacy of human rights in international relations.

The crisis in Burundi can be resolved but South Africa should join neighbouring states in showing leadership in the AU to preserve human rights and the safety of fellow Africans.

There is now a glimmer of hope in the latest efforts to end the 10-month-old political crisis in Burundi as President Pierre Nkurunziza and the opposition agree to hold talks.

This follows the intervention of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to get the warring parties to commit themselves to dialogue.
This is a positive development that the rival parties should seize to restore normality.

As Burundi continues to bleed internally, the entire East African region is also suffering.Burundi, as one of the partner states of the East African Community, plays a pivotal role in the bloc that has forged closer economic and political ties among the five member countries.

It is to be hoped that the Burundi leaders from both sides of the divide will not only hold talks, but will go ahead and hammer out a pact and jointly implement it.
The Burundi leaders must put aside their differences and give peace and reconciliation a chance

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