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The East African : Dec 12th 2015
16 ALL UNDER CONTROL Uganda says Museveni keeping an eye on Burundi through daily briefs Acco≥ding to the govt the Bu≥undi situation ‘is not as se≥ious as it has been made to appea≥’ By KEVIN KELLEY Special Correspondent from accusations that he has relegated his role as mediator in the Burundi crisis to the backburner, as he concentrates on his re-election bid. According to State Minister U for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem, no one, not even the US, should question the effectiveness of President Museveni’s mediation in the Burundi crisis or lay blame for the escalation in violence at the Ugandan leader’s doorstep. He explained that despite his busy re-election campaign, President Museveni “has kept an eye on Burundi because he receives intelligence briefs on the situation.” “Based on these briefs, if he evaluated the situation in Burundi as degenerating into genocide, he would not hesitate to deploy the Uganda People’s Defence Forces,” Mr Oryem said. He was reacting to allega- tions by the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield before a US Senate panel, that the Ugandan leader’s campaign for re-election next year has “very much distracted” him from his assigned role as EAC mediator of the Burundi crisis. “What’s the purpose of Pres- ident Museveni spending time in Burundi, then lose an election at home, which in effect would deny him the capacity to mediate in the Burundi crisis?” Mr Oryem asked. “In short, the Burundi crisis does not fall squarely on President Museveni and EAC, but is a matter to be handled by a combination of regional forces, the AU and the entire international community,” Mr Oryem argued. Ms Thomas-Greenfield had said that, “Urgent and closely focused attention is needed to quell Burundi’s internal conflict, but the EAC’s efforts to promote negotiations have not borne fruit, adding, “We hope to see dialogue initiated in the very near future. If it is not, and the crisis deteriorates further, possibly into full-scale I don’t think this is the time to apportion blame.” Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed ganda has defended President Yoweri Museveni The EastAfrican NEWS DECEMBER 12-18,2015 Fo≥ced disa≥ming going on, 97 ≥eleased By FRED OLUOCH Special Correspondent BURUNDI is carrying out forced disarmament of civilians even as violence continues to be reported, with the European Union accusing it of increasingly violating human rights. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ultimatum for voluntary return of illegally owned weapons expired on November 7, and the forced disarmament has brought relative peace to the capital Bujumbura. Authorities have also report- ed that 39 policemen have been killed since April, when confrontation between protestors and the police began. Last week, police on patrol in Burundi’s security forces at a crime scene after three people who attempted to assassinate a high ranking security officer, were killed in Bujumbura, on December 4. Picture: Anadolu Agency/File war, I fear that President Museveni and the EAC could end up being partially blamed, given the lengthy delays in getting the process started.” She suggested that the Afri- can Union should take over the mediation effort from the EAC and take this burden away from President Museveni. While acknowledging “warning signs” that the conflict in Burundi could take on an ethnic character, Ms Thomas-Greenfield disputed assertions that Hutu-Tutsi violence is imminent. She noted that political ten- sions within the EAC have also impeded mediation. “Competing interests between Burundi and Rwanda and between Rwanda and Tanzania “have caused the EAC to not be as effective as they might have been,” she said. Ms Thomas-Greenfield al- so took note of reports that Rwanda is recruiting Burundian refugees with the possible aim of launching an armed insurgency inside Burundi. Region’s role The US has encouraged the Rwandan government to investigate those reports, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said. Washington is also urging Rwanda to become “more proactive” in the peace process, she added. The Rwanda government has often maintained that it has no link with the Burundi crisis. In October, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo described the allegations as baseless; pointing out that it is natural that Rwanda is a gateway for Burundians who are seeking PROGRESS SO FAR Kampala has defended President Yoweri Museveni by saying that he has already done part of his mandate by delegating his Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga to start the mediation process by involving the international community and having every stakeholder’s input on board to stop the threatening conflict. refuge. “Burundi’s problem is not Rwanda’s. When leaders take decisions, they should be able to live with the consequence. We are not insensitive to the lives of Burundians. We just don’t have the mandate,” said Ms Mushikiwabo. She pointed out that Rwan- da had deliberately kept quiet about the Burundi’s crisis because “it’s for Burundians to take the first step to solve their own problems.” Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohamed told The EastAfrican that everybody is working very hard to support the peace process and that the EAC is working under the African Union, which is the parent body. She noted that EAC foreign ministers met in South Africa to discuss Burundi during the Africa-China summit and she is hopeful that the dialogue will resume soon. “I don’t think this is the time to apportion blame. There is a lot going on quietly and it will only be known once there is something concrete,” said Ms Mohamed. A comparatively pro-gov- ernment position was also put forward at the same Senate On Thursday, envoys from the United Nations, the AU, European Union, the US and the Great Lakes region held a joint press conference in Kampala, and stressed that the current situation in Burundi will only lead to further loss of lives and called for unconditional and inclusive dialogue. They urged President Museveni to launch the dialogue as soon as possible. subcommittee session by Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, a Burundian who is the dean’s assistant and a PhD student in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, in the US. He is also the Genocide Prevention Programme assistant in the same school. “People in the countryside do not care about presidential terms or the nuances of constitutional law,” Mr Nimuraba told the Senators. “What they remember is that there has been a popular president who does community service with them and who plays soccer with them. The capital city is the place where the political classes live.” Mr Nimuraba also suggested that world powers may be contributing to circumstances underlying the conflict in Burundi. “There is an underreported cold war competition between the major powers — China and Russia on one side and the West on the other,” he said. “Unexploited mineral resources like nickel and uranium play a major role in that commercial conflict.” Additional Reporting by Ju- lius Barigaba, Berna Namata and Fred Oluoch Killings and burnings marked the street protests. Picture: File Cibitoke district of the capital were attacked and a grenade was thrown their way, killing one of them. Five civilians were also killed, two of whom had been forced out of their houses and shot by unknown people. Reaction The government responded to criticism by releasing 97 prisoners who were arrested for protesting against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term. But according to the United Nations Human Rights office in Bujumbura, more than 700 people were arrested since the protest against the third term begun in April. President Nkurunziza has maintained that youth who apologise for having taken part in the protests that caused instability and chaos in the country will be forgiven, while all those who participated in the protests and were arrested will get a fair trial. Last week, 18 Burundian gov- ernment officials travelled to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels, for consultations in light of the growing human-rights violations and the political crisis facing the country. “The European Union consid- ers that there is a need for rapid implementation of a genuine and inclusive dialogue based on respect for the Arusha Agreement,” said the EU in a statement after the consultations.
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