Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday said he is open to dialogue with the opposition.
This sudden turn of events follows a meeting between him and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who arrived on Monday in the East African country to bolster talks to resolve the 10-month political crisis.
“I was very encouraged that the political leaders whether they are in government or the ruling party or opposition, they promised that they will engage in inclusive dialogue. This is what President Nkurunziza also confirmed,” Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Bujumbura.
The UN is under growing pressure to show it can halt the violence, two decades after the 1994 genocide between Tutsis and Hutus in neighbouring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic make-up to Burundi.
Just hours before the secretary general landed, at least two more people were killed and dozens hurt in two separate grenade attacks that are becoming a trend in the city of Bujumbura.
Nkurunziza has already rejected plans by the African Union to send peacekeepers to ease tensions in the Great Lakes nation, which diplomats fear is sliding towards another civil war.
As many as 300,000 people died in an ethnically charged civil war in Burundi that ended in 2005.
In a sign of the AU cranking up the diplomatic pressure, South Africa said President Jacob Zuma would fly to Bujumbura on February 25 with the leaders of Mauritania, Senegal, Gabon and Ethiopia to “assist with addressing the political situation”.