End to Political Crisis and Sporadic Violence in Burundi through Dialogue

On Friday, 23rd October 2015, Burundi’s President, Pierra Nkurunziza, swore in a National Commission for Dialogue (CNDI) in order to resolve a grave on-going political crisis in the country.  The 15-member commission for dialogue was commissioned at a ceremony in Gitega. It’s primary goal is “to conduct the process of inter-Burundian dialogue across the country”. Members of the commission are expected to comprise different political groups, religions, security forces, youth and ethnic groups.

However, contrary to general expectations, the opponents have described the newly setup commission (CNDI) as a sham. Emphatically, Charles Nditije, the leading opposition leader, has responded that his members will boycott all activities of the CNDI. “We need to discuss key issues such as the illegal third term secured by President Pierre Nkurunziza, security and the reopening of private media”, he added, while referring to sporadic violence and the closure of private radio stations.

Burundi, having witnessed a civil war in 2005, has been amidst political crisis and violence since president Pierre Nkurunziza made his intention to run for a third term in April 2015 (Bloomberg, 06 June, 2015). Nkurunziza was sworn in on 20th August, 2015 for an other five-year term. His party won a sweeping victory in a parliamentary vote. Subsequently, in September 2015, new ministers were sworn and some of them had been part of the opposition before. This drew criticism from other opponents who said that the cabinet was not legitimate. Nevertheless, the opposition party held the view that the five-year term violated the constitution and a peace deal which ended the 12-year conflict in 2005.

Cooperatively, in recent months, the United Nations, Africa Union and European Union (EU) have tried to facilitate peace dialogue but have little to show for it. European Union has already suspended some aids and warned of more action against the poor country if it does not resolve the crisis. In the last week of October, 2015, Burundi’s government will be invited for a discussion with EU in Brussels. The agenda of the invitation is to set a 150-day consultation process that the European Union hopes, will end the country’s worst crisis since the end of the civil war in 2005. (Reuters, 22 October, 2015)

From an optimistic point of view, political crisis and sporadic violence in Burundi will be resolved if the newly constituted body, the National Commission for Dialogue, operates objectively, indiscriminately and apolitically based on forthcoming consultations with EU in Brussels.