Burundi sets up body aimed to end crisis, opponents dismissive

by Reuters
Friday, 23 October 2015 16:23 GMT

A protester sets up a barricade during a protest against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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Western donors have suspended some aid and warned of more action against the poor country if it does not resolve the crisis

NAIROBI, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Burundi's president swore in a national commission for dialogue on Friday aimed at resolving a deep political crisis, although opponents quickly dismissed the body as a sham.

Burundi, which emerged from a civil war a decade ago, has been mired in crisis and sporadic violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid in April to run for a third term in office, winning a disputed election in July.

Opponents said another five-year term violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended the 12-year conflict in 2005. Nkurunziza's ruling party cited a constitutional court ruling saying the president could run again.

The 15-member commission for dialogue, known by the French acronym CNDI, was sworn in at a ceremony in Burundi's second city, Gitega, but it will be based in the capital Bujumbura.

A decree said the commission's goal was "to conduct the process of inter-Burundian dialogue across the country".

The members were aimed at representing different political groups, religions, security forces, ethnic groups, youths and others.

The United Nations and African mediators have tried to broker talks in recent months but have little to show for it. The opposition was dismissive of the latest initiative.

"We will ask our members to boycott all activities of the CNDI," said a leading opposition politician Charles Nditije.

"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 said, referring sporadic violence and the closure of private radio stations.

The government previously ruled out any negotiation about the president's new five-year term, saying he will serve a full term before any new election.

Western donors, such as the European Union, have already suspended some aid and warned of more action against the poor country if it does not resolve the crisis.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

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