African leaders are set to investigate claims by Burundi that neighbouring Rwanda is supporting rebels to topple government.
Crispus Kiyonga, the mediator of the talks between government and the opposition told reporters on Friday that regional leaders during their imminent summit will investigate the claims which Rwanda has denied.
“It’s true that Burundi officials including ministers have accused Rwanda of either assisting the armed opposition or facilitating them. The truth will be found out and a solution in case there is a problem,” Kiyonga who is also Uganda’s defense minister said.
Burundi accuses Rwanda of backing members of the opposition alliance National Council for the Restoration of Arusha Agreement and Rule of Law, known by the French acronym ‘CNARED’.
The government implicated CNARED members for being behind the failed May coup attempt that aimed to stop President Pierre Nkurunziza bid for a third term.
It also implicated CNARED for being behind attacks on security forces and recruiting refugees from the neighboring countries into armed rebellion.
The political violence and fighting in Burundi erupted in April last year after Nkurunziza declared his bid to run for a controversial third term, which opposition described as against the country’s constitution and the 2005 Arusha accord that ended years of civil war.
Regional countries headed by Uganda are leading peace efforts to end the fighting.
Meanwhile Kiyonga appealed to the Burundi government to return to the negotiation table noting that any disagreement can be ironed out there.
Burundi refused to return to the negotiation table noting that it can not negotiate with people responsible for the violence in the country.
“Let everybody come to the table, armed or not armed, criminal or not criminal but who has something to do with the conflict in Burundi. Let them come at the table,” said Kiyonga.
Kiyonga assured the Burundi government that negotiating with the opposition accused of committing atrocities does not mean their crimes have been forgiven.
The peace talks aimed at ending the violence hit a snag on Wednesday after the authorities in Burundi announced that the government delegation will not show up in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha for the resumption of the talks.
Kiyonga said all the warring parties must return to the table to end the killings and sufferings that the people of Burundi are facing.
He cautioned the Burundi government against issuing threats that it would attack an African Union (AU) force once it is deployed there.
“To threaten to shoot at an African force is not right. You can’t shoot our own force, who will protect us,” Kiyonga said.
AU Peace and Security Council on Dec.17 announced plans to deploy 5,000 peacekeepers to protect civilians.
The Burundi government protested saying it would not allow them in the country.
Kiyonga said the proposed force will help stabilize the deteriorating security situation in the country.
“That situation needs to be stablished and needs to be brought back to order. It is in that spirit that we of AU think we should come to the assistance of our brothers in Burundi,” he said
He said the AU is consulting with the Burundi government to reach a final decision on the deployment of the troops.