Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza. Picture: Reuters
Bujumbura – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza failed to pitch up at the 18th East African Community (EAC) heads of state summit which opened in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on Saturday.

Burundi is being represented by Vice President Gaston Sindimwo, Foreign Affairs Minister Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe, and senior adviser to the president in charge of media and communications Willy Nyamitwe.

Inter-Burundian crisis facilitator William Benjamin Mkapa is expected to present the report on the Arusha peace talks progress to the summit.

During the fourth round of the talks, nearly three months ago, Mkapa had noted a number of problems, including the Burundi government’s refusal to meet some opposition leaders in exile. Now Mkapa, 79, is relying on this heads of state summit to unblock the situation.

Burundi’s main opposition in exile, the CNARED grouping, is attending the summit. CNARED president Charles Nditije told reporters they would “intervene” with the EAC heads of state. “The heads of state must oblige the Burundian government to hold inclusive negotiations,” he said.

The Burundian government has refused four times to sit at the same negotiations table with the CNARED constituents, accusing them of being behind “the failed coup” in 2015. Mkapa had planned to reach an agreement by June.