Zuma to send envoy to Burundi
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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday said he would dispatch an envoy to Burundi in a bid to defuse the political crisis triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office.
“I am going to be sending an envoy to President Nkurunziza with my own kind of views that I am going to be putting across as to what we think should happen,” Zuma told reporters after a brief meeting with his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob, at his official residence in Cape Town.
“We don’t think Burundi should be allowed to go to war again. People should come to some conclusion that they must stop the escalation of the violence that is taking place there.”
Zuma said the violence that has spread through the Great Lakes nation in the past month was particularly regrettable because the decade of peace Burundi enjoyed after a bitter civil war had been hard won.
“The events in Burundi are unfortunate indeed because Burundi comes from a very difficult period.”
He recalled that the peace process saw former Tanzanian and South African leaders Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela mediate between warring factions, with himself later stepping in at Mandela’s behest.
“It took a long time. One would have thought that Burundians would not want to look back to that situation as it were now. So it is a situation that is ongoing. We believe the leadership there should be mature. It should be the country that is put first.
“I don’t think the constitutional technicality should actually sacrifice the country to go back to war.”
The worst crisis Burundi has seen since the end of the ethnically-charged civil war broke out after Nkurunziza moved to secure a third term and opposition parties objected, saying the country’s constitution and the accord that ended the conflict limited him to two terms.
This week the constitutional court cleared the way for the president to run again in June. It found that his first term did not count because he was appointed by Parliament and not elected by voters.
The issue sparked violent protests and the United Nations estimates that it has so far seen 40,000 flee to neighbouring Rwanda,Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.