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African leaders to hold meeting over unrest in Burundi

Tanzania's foreign minister says East African leaders will hold a meeting next week over the ongoing political unrest in Burundi. Bernard Membe said on Wednesday that the "extraordinary summit" of the five-nation regional East Africa Community (EAC) would take place in Tanzania's economic capital of Dar es Salaam on May 13. The remarks came as East African foreign ministers arrived in Burundi on Wednesday following days of violent protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term in office. Meanwhile, Burundi's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Daniel Kabuto said ministers from Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, were in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, “to listen to all parties in the conflict, and to try to propose ways out of crisis.”  Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres said he was "extremely worried" about the crisis in Burundi that has resulted in over 35,000 refugees fleeing from the African state.

In a statement released last week, the EAC urged talks to ease tensions and to ensure "the realization of a peaceful, free and fair electoral process" and called on Burundi to "ensure that the electoral process does not lead to humanitarian crisis." The political unrest erupted in the African country late April after the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy, which is the ruling party in Burundi and known by its French acronym, CNDD-FDD, designated the incumbent president as its candidate for the next presidential election due on June 26. Opposition forces say Nkurunziza’s bid for a third consecutive term in office is against the country’s constitution, as well as a peace deal that ended a civil war in the country some nine years ago. Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader from the majority Hutu tribe, has been in power for two terms since 2005. In October 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, the first democratically-elected president of Burundi who came from the Hutu ethnic group, was assassinated after only 100 days in office. The assassination triggered deadly ethnic violence between the Hutu majority and minority Tutsis. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the African nation's 13-year civil war that ended in 2006.


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