Burundi party’s olive branch met with scepticism
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Bujumbura - Burundi's ruling party has said it is “ready for compromise” with the opposition to ensure peaceful elections, as warnings mount of the risk of violence in the upcoming key polls.
Opposition politicians, however, said they were suspicious of the apparent olive branch.
The small nation in Central Africa's Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from a brutal 13-year civil war and its political climate remains fractious ahead of parliamentary and presidential polls, due in May and June.
The CNDD-FDD party of President Pierre Nkurunziza - who is expected to run for a third term despite opponents' claims that would violate the constitution - met with opposition parties to discuss a hotly contested voter registration process.
Opposition parties have accused the government of “massive fraud” and demanded the resignation of the electoral Commission, alleging there was mass distribution of identification cards to supporters of the ruling party.
The meeting, which took place Thursday, was the first time the rivals have sat down together following claims of fraud.
“The CNDD-FDD is ready to compromise... to calm things down to ensure elections are free, transparent and peaceful,” said CNDD-FDD spokesman Onesime Nduwimana.
The CNDD-FDD came “to try to find, with its partners and competitors, solutions to all the problems”, Nduwimana added.
But opposition politicians, who have claimed the government is doing all it can to sideline political challengers, dismissed the apparent move to ease tensions.
“If the ruling party really wants things to change, it would... correct the massive fraud in voter registration, and organise free and transparent elections,” said ex-rebel turned politician Agathon Rwasa, who led the former guerrilla National Liberation Forces (FNL).