Burundi opposition groups have demanded international mediator, Benjamin Mkapa’s resignation just days after he arrived, casting a shadow over already troubled efforts to resolve months of political violence.
The mediator, a former president of Tanzania, who flew in on Friday, gave a speech at the airport that anti-government groups appeared to recognise legitimacy of Burundi’s leader, issue at heart of the conflict.
Meanwhile, main opposition group, CNARED released a letter dated 12th December, saying the group does not recognize Mkapa as facilitator in inter-Burundian conflicts any more.
However, Mkapa, who is representing East Africa Community bloc, was not immediately available for comment.
Burundi has been mired in political crisis and sporadic violence for almost two years, triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term in office, which he secured in a disputed election in July 2015.
Opponents accuse the president of violating the constitution and a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005 while government accuses opponents of fomenting unrest and backing rebel groups.
The violence has alarmed a region where memories of 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda remain raw. Like Rwanda, Burundi has an ethnic Hutu majority and a Tutsi minority.
Mkapa told reporters at the airport that his priority was to ensure that the next presidential election in 2020 was free and fair.
“It’s the people of Burundi who have lent legitimacy to the president of Burundi…those who think I am the one lending legitimacy are absolutely out of their mind.” she said.
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