Mediators try to restart Burundi crisis talks

Burundian men take part in a protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza before his re-election, on the outskirts of Bujumbura on April 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina) (AFP/File)

Nairobi (AFP) - Uganda's defence minister is in Burundi in the latest bid to kickstart peace talks between rival factions in the impoverished central African country, presidential officials said Thursday.

Burundi has been rocked by violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful but contested bid for a third term in office.

Opponents said his re-election breached the terms of a peace deal that paved the way to ending a 13-year civil war in 2006.

Regional heads of state appointed Uganda in July to lead efforts to end months of unrest, but attempts to broker a deal have made little headway.

Ugandan Minister of Defence Crispus Kiyonga arrived in Burundi's capital Bujumbura on Wednesday, Burundi's presidential communications chief Willy Nyamitwe said.

"He met the presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly," he added.

Several round of prior talks, mediated by the United Nations, failed to resolve Burundi's political crisis.

"It will not be easy," a diplomat in Bujumbura said, asking not to be named. "The mediator arrived with the delicate mission of reviving talks.. to try to convince the government to sit at the same table as the opposition."

Tensions are high. Richard Sezibera, secretary general of the East African Community (EAC), the regional five-nation bloc, was "unceremoniously shoved" by a guard as he went into the senate, another diplomat said.

Sezibera, is from neighbouring Rwanda, who Burundi accuses of backing opponents of Nkurunziza.

The UN has warned that Burundi risks sliding back into civil war after a dramatic rise in killings, arrests and detentions, with over 200,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Some 200 people have been killed since violence broke out in April, with a third of those in the past month alone, the UN says.

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