East African leaders urged to help end Burundi stalemate 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — The East African Community (EAC) leaders were on Tuesday urged to pool together and initiate dialogue with the Burundi leaders to end the stalemate in the country.

Deo Hakizimana, President of the Independent Centre for Research and Initiatives for Dialogue (CIRID), a Geneva-based civil society organization, called on leaders of the regional bloc to work together to solve the stalemate through dialogue to save citizens from suffering. “The EAC is a respected strong bloc hence the need for the leaders in the region to strongly come out and engage the Burundian leadership and the opposition in solving the long standing misunderstanding in the country,” Hakizimana said in Nairobi during the launch of Macky Sall Prize for Dialogue in Africa (PMSDA) in Kenya.

The tiny central African nation has been in the midst of a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term earlier in April 2015. Since then several people have been killed, with the toll possibly considerably higher, and 250,000 have fled to neighbouring States with many others internally displaced. The UN has warned of a relapse into full-fledged civil war, calling the government to take all necessary steps to disarm pro-government militias and bring operations of the police, intelligence services and other security forces under the mantle of the law.

The Burundi diplomat, who has been involved in peace initiatives, said that Africa is not rich in resources alone but has a wide range of bright people that could help solve internal problems faster. The 57,000 U.S. dollar prize will be awarded annually to honor and encourage all initiatives related to political and social dialogue in Africa.  It is destined to address a significant message to support and relay African Union (AU), regional and sub-regional organizations efforts including the Diaspora. The prize has been introduced following President Sall’s involvement in dialogue to promote peace in countries across Africa.

Hakizimana played a key role in ending a conflict in Burkina Faso following a misunderstanding between Michel Kafondo, former Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso and then President of the Transitional Authority in 2015. As the chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he led the regional bloc and re-established the Burkina Faso Transitional Authority with the support of the ECOWAS security institutions. In February 2016, he was appointed by the African Union Commission (AUC) to represent West Africa in the High Level Delegation to solve the Burundi’s post 2015 political crisis. He also played a role in the 2017 Gambia post electoral crisis and contributed to the return of President-elect Adama Barrow that restored constitutional order in the Gambia.Hakizimana said that institutions should be respected so that rule of law is followed to help arrest conflicts in the continent.The inaugural Macky Sall Prize in Africa for Dialogue that will be awarded in September 2017 at the United Nations in Geneva by President Sall, is organized by CIRID.