President Jacob Zuma has been appointed to head the Africa Union (AU) High level panel which has been tasked to seek possible measures in resolving the Burundi crisis.
Appointed by new AU chair Chad President, Idriss Déby, Zuma has been charged to lead the panel of heads of states that are due to visit the country on Thursday.
Speaking on his appointment, Zuma said he was called by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday morning ahead of his visit to the troubled country and that his appointment was related to his previous efforts as mediator in the Burundi Peace talks that ended a debilitating civil war.
The South Africa president however said he will speak with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was chief mediator after violence broke out when Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third time.
The African Union (AU) had at first, abandoned its decision to send peace keeping mission to the country. Instead it appointed a heads of state committee to engage the government.
As the facilitator of the Burundi peace process in 2003, Zuma said he had worked tirelessly on the Burundi peace process already and has a clear vision of what is required to fulfil this demanding responsibility. With his reappointment, it is believed that the Burundi crisis would soon be a forgotten issue.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to be in Bujumbura on Monday to give fresh impetus to stalled efforts at resolving Burundi’s 10-month-old political crisis.
According to Foreign Minister Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe, Ban, is expected to arrive in Bujumbura at 4:30pm (1430 GMT) from New York, and he will be holding talks with the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday morning after meeting with leaders of political parties and civil society.
His visit has also been seen by some as a good step by the UN towards ensuring peaceful settlement of the crisis in the country.
“This is a very important visit because we hope the UN Secretary General will bring his weight to bear on President Pierre Nkurunziza so he finally accepts an inclusive and unconditional dialogue with his opponents,” a
“We hope the visit will convince (Nkurunziza) to accept a genuine international investigation into these allegations,” UN official said
Its been reported that over 400 people have been killed in the 10 months old crisis and over 240,000 have left the country since then. thousands have also been said to have been arrested and the security forces repeatedly accused of extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations.
Ban’s visit comes as the Burundi government is appearing to soften its position towards its opponents. He is also expected to leave Burundi after the talks on Tuesday morning to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo on the second leg of an Africa tour that will also take him to South Sudan where civil war erupted in December 2013.