Diplomats from the United Nations Security Council have told Burundi officials that the ongoing conflict in the country that has left hundreds dead must be resolved through dialogue.
The envoys who arrived in Burundi on Thursday are scheduled to meet President Pierre Nkurunziza later on Friday.
The diplomats hope to use the meeting to be held at the President’s residence outside of Bujumbura to persuade him to agree to an African Union proposal of 5,000 peacekeepers, which his government has branded an “invasion force”.
Deputy French Ambassador to the UN, Alexis Lamek told Reuters after a meeting between the envoys and the Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe that the fighting has to stop and that dialogue was the only way.
Burundi’s first Vice President, Gaston Sindimwo says the government is open to dialogue but will not “stand by and allow criminals to have their way”.
The rebel group FOREBU on Thursday announced that former intelligence chief, General Godefroid Niyombare was its new commander, a move which deepened fears that the country was sliding back into conflict.
Months of talks between the government and the opposition last year failed to make progress and a new round of negotiations launched at the end of December in Uganda have already stalled.
More than 400 people have died since the troubled central African country descended into turmoil in April last year when President Nkurunziza announced his ultimately successful re-election bid.
Two of Burundi’s former presidents Jean- Baptiste Bagaza and Domitien Ndayizeye who met with the UN diplomats on Thursday called for an international force to be deployed to the country.