Ex-Tanzania president named as new Burundi crisis mediator

Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa wants the rival Burundi factions to agree on the terms of the 2020 election (AFP Photo/EBRAHIM HAMID)

Nairobi (AFP) - Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa was named Wednesday as the new mediator for talks to end a nearly year-long crisis in neighbouring Burundi by the regional East African Community (EAC).

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni officially remains the main mediator, but 77-year old Mkapa is expected to push renewed efforts to solve the violence. Burundi has been in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial decision last April to run for a third term.

EAC chairman and Tanzanian President John Magufuli announced the new appointment at a summit meeting in the bloc's headquarters in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.

Mkapa was Tanzania's president from 1995 to 2005, when he hosted a million Burundian refugees fleeing the civil war. He was accused at the time of also harbouring Burundian Hutu rebels, including forces now with key posts in power in Bujumbura.

Nkurunziza did not attend the summit: the last time he left Burundi was for an EAC meeting, when rebels staged a failed coup bid.