Johannesburg - Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has said that Burundi should postpone its elections to give time for the region to come to “an amicable solution that calls for continued peace in Burundi”.
Kenyatta, in a phone call to Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza on Monday morning, again reiterated the East African Community’s position that he should postpone his country’s elections within the constitutionally allowed term of the current Parliament.
Kenyatta made the phone call from South Africa after meeting with President Jacob Zuma at the presidential guest house in Pretoria.
Kenyatta was in South Africa to address the opening session of the Pan African Parliament in Midrand this morning.
He told SABC foreign editor Sophie Mokoena in an interview that “Burundi has come a long way, courtesy of the region and courtesy of great men like Nelson Mandela ... and your own President Jacob Zuma”.
Mandela and Zuma helped broker a peace deal in Burundi in 2000.
“We believe that peace and stability are critical to Burundi,” he said.
He said the East African Community “also called on all parties to refrain from violence to enhance dialogue” to come to an amicable solution that was acceptable to the people of Burundi and that would allow for free and fair elections to take place.
Ten days ago Zuma sent Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe to try to persuade Nkurunziza to refrain from his bid to run as president for a third term. Burundi’s constitutional court ruled that he was allowed to, after Nkurunziza argued that he was elected by Parliament and not the people in 2005.
There was talk on Wednesday night, as news broke of the attempted coup against Nkurunziza and after he was refused entry back into Burundi from Tanzania, that South Africa could step forward to offer him refuge. Nkurunziza, however, refused the offer.
Burundi’s elections are scheduled for the end of May while the presidential elections are set to take place at the end of June.