US envoy in Uganda to encourage Burundi peace talks

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2015 10:28 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Washington stepped up efforts to end bloodshed in Burundi Friday by sending a regional envoy to Uganda to encourage talks to resolve the crisis, a Ugandan official said Friday.

Tom Perriello, the U.S. envoy to Africa's Great Lakes region, is visiting Uganda to consult with Uganda's president on how to restart the Burundi negotiations, said Okello Oryem, Uganda's deputy foreign minister.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was nominated by a regional bloc to act as the mediator amid a series of killings which many observers fear has moved Burundi toward a return to civil war.

At least 240 people have been killed since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, sparking violent street protests in the capital, Bujumbura.

In the most recent attack blamed on the security forces, armed men wearing police uniform killed at least nine people at a bar in Bujumbura on November 7. The security ministry has acknowledged the attackers wore police uniform but insists they were ordinary criminals working with political exiles to discredit the government. No similar attacks have been reported since then.

Nkurunziza was eventually re-elected in July elections, but the capital has remained unstable with gunfire and explosions frequently heard.

Many opposition figures have fled into exile, while at least two have been assassinated. Supporters of the government, like a former intelligence chief, have also been targeted.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday condemning the killings in Burundi and threatening sanctions. The resolution called for Burundi's government "to immediately convene an inclusive and genuine inter-Burundian dialogue."

In response, Burundi's government said it wants to negotiate with opposition groups.

More than 200,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries since April, according to the U.N.


Eloge Willy Kaneza in Bujumbura, Burundi, contributed to this report.