African Union Chair, President Mugabe receives a letter from Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s special envoys – Ambassador Salvator Ntacombamaze, Premanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye (Centre) at the State House in Harare
President Mugabe yesterday met a special envoy from Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza at State House in Harare where the African Union chairperson was appraised about political developments in that country.
Briefing journalists after a two-hour meeting, Chief-of-Staff in the Office of the President, Major-General Everiste Ndayishimiye said he came to brief President Mugabe on political developments in Burundi ahead of the African Union summit to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, later this week.
Burundi has been on the spotlight after it rejected a proposal by AU to send troops to Bujumbura to protect civilians in the wake of the death of 400 people and displacements of more than 200 000 owing to hostilities.
The hostilities had been spawned by the decision by president Nkurunziza’s to seek a third term as some opposition parties protested against the move arguing that he was in violation of the two term limit provided for by that country’s constitution.
President Nkurunziza has on the other hand argued that he started serving his second and final term since the constitution did not earlier on provide term limits.
But Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye said President Mugabe had indicated that the issue of Burundi would come up for discussion at the AU summit.
“You know there is a meeting which is going to be held in Addis Ababa. He told us that they will discuss these issues. We have confidence that they will know the reality and they will not consent to send troops in Burundi,” said Maj Gen Ndayishimiye.
Asked why Burundi was refusing to accept deployment of AU troops, Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye said there was no need for that because there was peace prevailing in that country.
He said it did not make sense to deploy foreign troops when Burundi had more than 5 000 security forces on peacekeeping missions in several countries like Somalia.
“Burundi is protecting other countries. How can you send other troops to protect Burundi. In my view, AU can send other troops in Somalia and Central Africa to help them keep peace quickly. But for Burundi, we send troops because we have peace.
“If we had no peace we could bring back our forces, but now there is no need to bring back our forces because those that remain in the country are working well,” said Maj-Gen Ndayishimiye.
“We have more than 5 000 troops in Somalia. We are assisting Central Africa with more than one battalion, the police are also in Sudan, Haiti, Mali and its known by everyone. So there is no need to send troops to Burundi to protect Burundi when we are protecting other countries.”
He said the deaths of more than 400 people were as a result of criminals, something he said was even common in some developed countries.
“What we have is ordinary criminality and the police and the army are dealing with that situation. Every country has criminals and Burundi is faced with that. Even in the United States, they have criminals who kill people in classrooms.
“In Burundi we did not see anyone who is shooting in schools. They kill some people to steal, attack families to steal, so it’s ordinary criminality that we are faced with,” he said.
Mr Ndayishimiye said Government was busy unifying people after the end of election mode.
“You know when political parties are preparing for election they try to divide the people so that this group can support them, but after the election the main duty of the Government is to unify and reconciliate people.
“Now that is what we are doing and is going on well. We put in place a commission for national dialogue which is working well and we hope that in few months everything will be normal and His Excellency President Mugabe has told us that he is supporting Burundi since a long time and even today he will continue to support Burundi,” he said.
The event was attended by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Sydney Sekeramayi and other senior Government officials.
Zvamaida Murwira, Senior Reporter – The Herald Zimbabwe