EDITORIAL: Burundi needs saving

Tuesday February 12 2019

Tanzanian ex-president Benjamin Mkapa with

Tanzanian ex-president Benjamin Mkapa with Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza at State House Bujumbura. Mkapa has been the facilitator of the Burundi Dialogue. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

What is wrong with Africa, where disputes are left to ‘fester,’ so to speak? Without glossing over the adage that every cloud has a silver lining – as we have recently seen between Ethiopia and Eritrea – the fact is that some African countries have been hiding under the protective cocoon of the ‘non-interference’ policy to brutalise their citizens, re-writing and otherwise violating national constitutions to suit their narrower ends.

While we thought that the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Arusha on August 28, 2000 would bring sanity to Burundi, it was blatantly reversed as the international community watched, triggering violence and an avalanche of refugees from that country. The Burundi government held a controversial referendum to amend the constitution and revisit the Arusha peace accords. As the damage intensified, the EAC saw it apposite to relaunch the peace talks. Now it is reported that, despite ‘conclusion’ of the mediation process, Tanzanian facilitator Benjamin Mkapa is dismayed by the apparent failure of the negotiations.

Had EAC – and, indeed, the international community – halted Burundi government’s tampering with the constitution from the beginning, the crisis would have been averted.

We call on the international community to save Burundi from sinking further in the morass.