Peace talks aimed at resolving Burundi’s year-long political crisis began on Saturday in the Tanzanian city of Arusha.
Some major opposition groups were however absent at the start of the talks.
Government officials, representatives of civil society and representatives of some opposition parties started the talks facilitated by the six-state East African Community.
Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe, said: “Our government was willing and open to talk with all political actors who are peaceful. If you go by the international organization’s pronouncements on Burundi, both have come up with a clear indication as to which category of people should be around the table and those ones have to be peaceful. We’re not making that up. It’s in resolutions 32, 48 and 2279.”
Some civil society groups however accused the authorities of deliberately complicating the talks in order to cling to power.
“The government doesn’t want to talk, and they said that ‘we don’t come to Arusha.’ So they came to Arusha because the facilitation is on their side and the opposition is not here.That’s a big problem.” a member of the opposition said.
Burundi was thrown into crisis when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would seek re-election in April last year.
Scores of Burundians have since fled the country with many more still crossing the border into Tanzania daily, according to the UNHCR.