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AU chair urges dialogue to end Burundi crisis

Published on 13/06/2015

The head of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Saturday urged rival sides in Burundi to engage in dialogue to solve the political crisis gripping the central African nation.

The country has been embroiled in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid in April for a third consecutive five-year term.

Violent protests have left about 40 people dead and scores more injured in weeks of unrest, mostly in the capital Bujumbura, while more than 100,000 people have fled the country.

“We would like to encourage all the parties to engage in constructive dialogue placing the interest of the country and the people, welfare and lives of their people and the stability and peace above all else,” said AU chairwoman Dlamini-Zuma at a peace and security meeting in Johannesburg on the eve of an African Union summit.

The security situation in Burundi is expected to the at the centre of the African heads of state meeting which starts on Sunday. But it was unclear if Nkurunziza himself would attend the meeting.

Since surviving a coup attempt last month Nkurunziza has faced international pressure to reconsider his attempt to stay in power, which observers fear could plunge the country back into war.

The country will hold parliamentary elections on June 29 and a presidential poll on July 15.