UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Burundi on Monday had been touted as an important one for nation. The country had erupted into violence after incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for another term, which would be his third.
Protests immediately broke out since April of last year with a total of above 400 people killed to date and 250,000 people fleeing to neighboring states. That did not however stop Nkurunziza from securing a victory in the July elections and the country has since been split along the lines of the opposition and Nkurunziza loyalists.
Just ahead of the visit of the UN Chief, at least four people lost their lives in grenade and gun attacks. Witnesses and the mayor said the grenades were wrapped in plastic bags and thrown from the assailants who got around on motorbikes. Bujumbura mayor Freddy Mbonimpa told AFP commenting on the attacks that; “The capital had been calm for several days, but these terrorists as usual launch their criminal operations to show they’re here just when Burundi is expecting an important guest”.
The UN which has warned consistently that the country risks a repeat of the 1993-2005 civil war has been at the centre of various diplomatic initiatives aimed at stemming the unrest. The latest declaration by President Pierre Nkurunziza that he will release 2,000 prisoners that have been detained since the protests broke out in April was made after the talks with UN Chief Ban Ki-moon. The resolution seems to speak well for the effects of the UN Chief’s visit.
Mr Ban has said that the leader’s decision to release the prisoners was an encouraging step, adding that President Nkurunziza had likewise given him an assurance that he would hold inclusive dialogue with the opposition. He reiterated that “Burundi’s political leaders must be ready to summon the courage and the confidence that will make a credible political process possible,”.
AFP news agency also reports that on Thursday, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and four other African leaders are due to visit Burundi, hopefully these steps taken together will see to a faster resolution of the crisis in Burundi.