NAIROBI (Reuters) - Burundi’s main opposition grouping said it is boycotting peace talks that resumed on Tuesday in Tanzania, leaving little chance that the negotiations will end simmering political violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.
Burundi has been gripped by unrest since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would stand for a third term, which the opposition said violated the constitution as well as a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war.
He won a vote largely boycotted by the opposition, but protests sparked a government crackdown that has killed more than 700 people, displaced over 400,000 to neighbouring countries and left the economy moribund.
The International Criminal Court is investigating whether pro-government forces committed war crimes including murder, torture and rape. Burundi, which has withdrawn from the court, is refusing to recognise the investigation.
Exiled opposition grouping CNARED said former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, who is facilitating the Nov. 28-Dec. 8 round of talks in Arusha, had not invited them.
“We have always asked the facilitator to invite CNARED as an opposition bloc, but he has refused and rather decided to select some of our members who will take part to the dialogue without our consent,” said CNARED spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye.
At the end of October, Burundi’s cabinet adopted draft legislation seeking to change the current constitution to allow Nkurunziza to run for a fourth term in the 2020 election.
The proposed amendments, likely to go to a referendum by next year, seek to abolish the two-term limit and lengthen the presidential terms to seven years.
CNARED says amending the constitution will worsen the crisis.
Editing by Jeremy Gaunt