A young boy from Burundi, forced to flee his home due to violence, looks at his new surroundings in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania (2015). Photo: UNICEF Tanzania: Rob Beechey.
For a year now, Burundi has been on the brink of war. Approximately 800-900 people have been killed and more than 300,000 people have fled the country. The displaced are spread across Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in camps that are desperately overcrowded and short of food. Burundi’s deadly violence erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a controversial decision to run for a third term, which he won in contested elections in July 2015. That triggered a failed coup attempt, mass protests and a crackdown that has become a permanent state of violence.The opposition said he was violating the constitution’s two-term limit as well as the Arusha agreement that ended Burundi’s 12-year civil war in 2005.
On June 29 2016, I talked in Brussels with top officials of CNARED, Burundi’s main opposition. There are 22 political opposition parties involved in CNARED, as well as civil society organizations. We talked to: Mr. Jean Minani president of CNARED, Ms Aline Ndenzako Commissioner of Human Rights of CNARED and Mr. Pie Ntavyohanyuma, the former president of the Parliament in Burundi.
Jean Minani indicated that their main aim is:
– To stop the killings in Burundi
– To achieve peace via dialogue with the government of Burundi
– To rebuild the country
– To stress the importance of human rights
– To maintain a state of law and uphold the Arusha Accord
CNARED expresses the concern that the Burundian government does not want to talk with the opposition and that the government is feeling very strong. It is not their aim to remove President Pierre Nkurunziza from power. Their objective is to stop the killings in Burundi, have the Arusha Peace Agreement respected, and to re-establish Burundi as a state of law as is outlined above.
Peace SOS mentioned to CNARED that in the description of the security situation in Burundi of June 15, 2016 of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, it was stated that several opposition groups use violence. CNARED indicated that they do not use violence and that the armed forces do not belong to them. Waiting for inclusive negotiations, these groups have stopped their acts of destabilization and are ready for dialogue. The opposition and the armed forces both want negotiations in order to stop the violence.
Peace SOS asked how CNARED viewed peacekeepers of the African Union and police officers of the United Nations. CNARED welcomes these proposals. They would also like more than 300 police officers. CNARED stresses that everything should be done to stop the killings.
CNARED stressed the importance of participating in the dialogue with the Burundian government and to have the means for this. CNARED also wondered if the money that the Netherlands used to give to the police and the army in Burundi can be spent now on the Burundian refugees in Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and Congo. Since the Netherlands trained the Burundian police, the Netherlands has a special responsibility, according to CNARED.
this blog was written in 2016 by May-May Meijer