FACILITATOR: Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa addressing delegates at the just-concluded Inter-Burundi Dialogue

The facilitator for the EAC-led Inter-Burundi Dialogue, former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa, has set June 2017 as the deadline for the signing of peace agreement in the troubled Central African country.

The revelation is contained in a December 9 release that was issued at the end of Mr Mkapa’s two-day visit to Burundi, where he confered with President Pierre Nkurunziza and other stakeholders on the status of the Dialogue and the way forward.

‘The Facilitator had cordial discussions with President Nkurunziza and shared with him his vision of the interventions to be undertaken in the coming months in fulfillment of the EAC Summit of Heads of State mandate,’ the release states in part.

Stories Continues after ad

Among the groups Mr Mkapa consulted with were political parties, the diplomatic community, civil society organizations, women and youth groups, religious leaders and a number of prominent political actors.

In his interactions Mr Mkapa lauded the development partners for their assistance and also implored all the stakeholders to ensure Burundi holds credible elections in 2020.

He however, decried limitations in political space and underscored the need for open and frank deliberations in a bid to improve democracy.

The current impasse is a Burundi problem that must be solved by the Barundi. They must therefore strive to establish common ground for Dialogue,’ the release adds.

Burundi was plunged into a political crisis since April 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term in office that he won.

To date, UN reports indicate that hundreds of people have been killed, more than 250,000 have fled the nation, and thousands more have been arrested and subjected to human rights violations in the country.