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Kenya sends envoy to meet Burundi government and opposition

media Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, Washington DC, August 2014. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a special envoy to Burundi to meet with the government and opposition leaders to discuss the ongoing crisis. Envoy Joseph Nyagah spent Wednesday and Thursday in Bujumbura to encourage continued dialogue to help end the crisis sparked by the controversial third term of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“I went to listen, to hear and to see what we could do better than we’re doing at the moment in order to assist that country [Burundi] come out of its current crisis,” Nyagah told RFI following his return to Nairobi.

“It is very, very important that the two opposing sides keep talking and we encourage them to keep talking,” Nyagah said by telephone.

The main purpose of his trip was to discuss the crisis, Nyagah said, but he was also campaigning on behalf of Kenya’s candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant executive secretary position of the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region regional bloc.

Kenyatta’s appointed Burundi envoy said he tried to impart lessons Kenya learnt during its post-election crisis. “We had similar problems in Kenya in the past and in the end we sat down and we were able to resolve our problems in 2007 and 2008,” he said.

“Uganda’s doing a first class job” of leading mediation on Burundi on behalf of the East African Community, according to Nyagah. The Kenyan official said they need to ensure that any dialogue “brings on board all parties that need to come on board internally, including the ones that are not in the country at the moment”.

The East African Standby Force is currently “assessing what needs to be done from a military standby point of view”, said Nyagah. This follows a proposal by the African Union that floated the possibility of a military intervention should the situation in Burundi deteriorate.

The situation in Bujumbura is “not perfect, but life seems to be going on normally”, Nyagah said. He met with Nkurunziza, saying Burundi’s president has “indicated that he’s meaning to try and find a solution that incorporates all Burundi people in the dialogue”.

Sanctions against those perpetuating violence in Burundi would be “unfair and too early, given the efforts that are going on in terms of encouraging internal dialogue”, said Nyagah, relaying his impression of Nkurunziza’s thoughts on the matter.

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