UN chief in Burundi to press dialogue as unrest persists

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2016 12:41 PM

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Burundi to encourage dialogue between the government and its opponents amid violent unrest.

Ban was welcomed at the Bujumbura airport Monday by Vice President Gaston Sindimwo and hundreds of people lined the streets to get a glimpse of the U.N. chief. Ban will meet with some Burundian politicians and leaders of civic groups.

Gun and grenade attacks continue to plague Burundi, especially the capital, Bujumbura, as President Pierre Nkurunziza's supporters and opponents target each other.

Three people were killed in gun and grenade attacks Sunday in Bujumbura and a fourth person was killed in a blast on Monday, deputy police spokesman Moise Nkurunziza told The Associated Press.

Burundi's violence stems from Nkurunziza's decision last April to seek a third term which he won.

A new rebel movement has vowed to oust Nkurunziza from power by force.

Ban's visit follows that of members of the U.N. Security Council in January to press negotiations between Nkurunziza and his opponents. Nkurunziza insists he cannot negotiate with his opponents in exile, who have united under a coalition called CNARED. Nkurunziza accuses its members of being behind a failed coup attempt last May.

Ban should ask Nkurunziza to allow independent experts to investigate rights abuses and the allegation of mass graves, Leonard Nyangoma, chairman of CNARED, said by phone.

"There must be unconditional dialogue and this is what Ban Ki-moon should tell Nkurunziza," Nyangoma said.

More than 400 people have been killed in Burundi's unrest, and more than 200,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries, mostly to Rwanda, according to the U.N.

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SSuuna contributed from Kigali, Rwanda.