by Ronald Ssekandi, Samuel Egadu
East African Community (EAC) leaders are set to meet later this month in the region’s annual summit where the crisis is likely to be high on agenda. EAC brings together Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Museveni who was appointed during the last emergency summit in July to facilitate dialogue among the warring parties told reporters recently that he had received a report on the progress of the dialogue.
“I hear the talks are not going very well… I have not been following this closely. I think I will need to find out…,” Museveni told reporters on Nov. 4 when asked about the progress of his mediation efforts.
Museveni on Nov. 23 told reporters that he is in touch with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in order to fast track the end of the eight-month’s crisis that has left at least 240 people killed and tens of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.
“Soon you will hear something about (ending conflict) it,” said Museveni.
While meeting Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Affairs minister on Sunday, Museveni, according to a State House statement said the EAC leaders were working together to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
The crisis resulted out of Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in power, contrary to the country’s Constitution.
“We have recorded progress and advised that the peace talks should be all inclusive. The Burundi government should accept to include the opposition that is within the country and outside,” Museveni said.
A fortnight ago, Uganda’s defense minister Crispus Kiyonga who is mediating the talks told diplomats in Kampala that there is an urgent need to for all stakeholders to engage meaningfully without hesitation.
“It is time to increase the speed rate because on the ground, there are very worrying signals which require engaging all state holders,” Sophie Makame, French Ambassador to Uganda who attended the closed door meeting told Xinhua on Nov. 20.
The United Nations Security Council on Nov. 12 adopted a resolution calling for an inter-Burundians’ dialogue to find a nationally owned solution to the crisis.
The Council appointed a special adviser for the prevention of conflicts, Adama Dieng and urged the UN Secretary General to give options for a future presence of UN peacekeepers in the country.
East African leaders of late have been critical of deploying forces from outside Africa on the continent. They argue that they are not committed in helping ending conflicts in Africa.
The leaders were critical in forming the UN Intervention Brigade consisting of African troops. The troops were deployed as part of the UN peacekeeping forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013.
If the leaders agree on deployment of troops in Burundi, they are likely to look at the African troops which have just concluded a joint training exercise in South Africa.
Ugandan and Rwandan troops on Nov. 12 landed at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport aboard an Algerian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 plane.
The troops were coming back from a training mission in South Africa where they met over 5,000 of their colleagues from elsewhere in Africa to participate in a simulation exercise of restoring order in a war torn country.
These troops under the African Union, according to a top Ugandan military official, now have the capacity to handle a situation like the Burundi crisis.
Maj. Gen. Wilson Mbadi, Joint Chief of Staff of the Ugandan military told reporters on Nov. 12 at the country’s military airbase that the troops have the capacity to enforce peace and later stabilize the country through peacekeeping efforts.
He argued that while the military has the capability to deploy at the shortest time possible, it is the political leaders at the helm of the African Union or the regional bodies to make the strategic decision. Enditem