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Uhuru urges Burundi rivals to talk peace

Saturday May 9 2015

Protesters run across a fire towards police lines in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura on May 4, 2015. PHOTO | PHIL MOORE |

Protesters run across a fire towards police lines in the Musaga neighbourhood of Bujumbura on May 4, 2015. PHOTO | PHIL MOORE |  AFP

WALTER MENYA
By WALTER MENYA
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President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged the parties to the pre-election dispute in Burundi to open up for dialogue as the only way to end the political impasse.

The President spoke when the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Committee of Elders chaired by Bethuel Kiplagat and EAC Eminent Persons paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.

He said the continued unrest in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, was not only a threat to the country’s stability but the East African region.

“The consequences of the unrest in Burundi will be felt beyond the country’s borders especially neighbouring countries,” the President said.

This comes as the East and Horn of Africa remain at a crossroads as the political crisis in Burundi and South Sudan threatens to consume the region.

East African Heads of State will on Tuesday meet in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, over the Burundi crisis after more than a week of silence. The International Criminal Court also waded into the matter with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warning that Burundi’s leaders will be held responsible for any mass crimes.

With the contested elections in Burundi approaching, the country has experienced intense violence mostly in Bujumbura as opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s quest for a third term grows.

RISING DEATH TOLL

The death toll from the protests has risen to 18 as President Nkurunziza maintains that he will be on the ballot in the June 26 presidential elections.

The constitution limits presidential terms to two but a lacuna in the law has been used by President Nkurunziza and his supporters to seek a third term.

The ruling CNN-FDD argues that the first term, which started in 2005, was not out of a universal suffrage since he was elected by parliament.

The opposition, however, argues that the President is already in his second term and will be subverting the constitution and spirit of the Arusha accord which ended the a 13-year civil war by limiting presidential terms to two.

ICC prosecutor Bensouda says as witnessed in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, if not handled properly electoral competition can trigger large-scale crimes falling under the ICC jurisdiction.