Urgent Need for Political Dialogue in Burundi

Press Statement by John Kirby Department Spokesperson

Today’s inauguration in Burundi demonstrates the ruling party’s intent to ignore the voices of its people in pursuit of its own political agenda.  An inauguration – without a government that represents the population’s many political voices and without a comprehensive and inclusive dialogue – will not resolve the political and security crisis in Burundi.The crisis in Burundi, sparked by President Nkurunziza’s decision to pursue a third term in violation of the Arusha Agreement, is not over.  The situation is increasingly volatile and President Nkurunziza’s ability to effectively govern the country remains in peril as Burundi struggles with the continued aftermath of a deeply flawed electoral process, the closure of democratic space, a declining economy, and increasing violence.An inclusive and comprehensive political dialogue is the only credible route to reestablish stability in Burundi and forge a peaceful and consensus path forward for the Burundian people.  Such a dialogue could begin to restore democratic credibility to the country by reaffirming the Arusha Agreement, reopening press outlets, releasing political prisoners, and reaching agreement on an electoral process going forward.  Recent violence and targeted killings highlight the urgency in restarting this dialogue and providing all stakeholders with a peaceful path forward. The United States supports the efforts of Uganda, on behalf of the East African Community, to mediate this dialogue and believes that continued attention and support from the African Union, United Nations, and all states in the region will be critical to help bring Burundi back from the precipice.