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Cablegate: Burundi's Parliament Leaders Offer No Solutions To

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DE RUEHJB #0586/01 2321705
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P 201705Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0500
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
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UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000586

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DEPT FOR AF/C

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL BY
SUBJECT: BURUNDI'S PARLIAMENT LEADERS OFFER NO SOLUTIONS TO
POLITICAL STALEMATE

1. (SBU) In a meeting on August 8, the President of
Burundi's Senate, Gervais Rufyikiri, emphasized that only
true dialogue among the political powers would be able to
unblock the stalemate in the National Assembly. Rufyikiri
stated the the political problems threatening to destabilize
Burundi can be easily solved by seeking a shared
understanding of each other's grievances and demands. The
Senate president acknowledged that concessions are needed by
all factions to arrive at an equitable solution and claimed
that his ruling party National Council for the Defense of
Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD)
government is ready to act and negotiate on the requests of
opposition parties. In particular, he noted that Union for
National Progress (UPRONA) is requesting additional
ministerial seats which constitutionally, he said, the
government is not allowed to grant. Instead of negotiating
in good faith, Rufyikiri feared that UPRONA will ask their
current ministers to quit the government which will only
serve to exacerbate the stranglehold on the legislative
process. Indicating his frustration with mixed messages from
the opposition, Rufyikiri also expressed his desire to have
dialogue with those individuals who truly represent the
wishes of their political parties.

2. (SBU) Rufyikiri stated that he expected a lot from the
international communuity during this time of political
crisis. The president of the Senate claimed that the
international community can offer advice from a different
point of view from the warring factions. He urged the
international community, for the sake of the Burundian
people, not to abandon Burundi. Lastly, Rufyikiri also
suggested that the international community can use their
influence to accelerate the stalled peace process between the
government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL, a situation
which Rufyikiri claims is contributing to fears from ordinary
Burundians of renewed violence.

3. (SBU) In a later meeting, the Speaker (President) of the
National Assembly, Pie Ntavyohanyuma, spoke in great detail
of of the events leading up to the current legislative
impasse, and suggested that if the leaders of the opposition
parties had acted in a 'mature' manner, the blockage in the
political process could have been avoided. Ntavyohanyuma
claimed that the roots of this stalemate can be traced to the
Feburary 7 removal of Hussein Radjabu as the ruling CNDD-FDD
party's president. Ntavyohanyuma asserted that Radjabu's
removal created divisions within the CNDD-FDD party that
eroded the ruling party's majority held in the Parliament.
Ntavyohanyuma suggested that the Front for Democracy in
Burundi (FRODEBU) and UPRONA pounced upon this opportunity to
gain additional positions and greater influence within the
governmnent. In the government's defense, Ntavyohanyuma said
that Burundi's President Nkurunziza offered to include
minority voices in the government within his constitutional
capacity, and was receptive to opening a dialogue with his
political foes. According to Ntavyohanyuma, the opposition
refused to cooperate with Nkurunziza's attempt to form a new
government and ultimately caused the current slowdown when
the new government was viewed as unacceptable.

4. (SBU) Comment: There was no new ground broken in either
of these meetings. Appearing very relaxed, Rufyikiri spoke
of his perceptions about the current difficulties in general
terms, and offered nothing substantive or earth-shattering
concerning root causes or, more importantly, as a way
forward. In contrast, the Speaker seemed to take a very
defensive posture during the meeting with his long, detailed
and prepared account of the events leading to the stalemate,
some of which seemed intended to justify his actions to this
point in time. It is difficult to imagine that the current
political impasse will be overcome in the near future as
these two powerful members of government seem to be throwing
their hands up in frustration with the opposition forces.
Although neither of these influential men alleged that
President Nkurunziza was being ill-advised by unknown forces,
neither of them either offered to urge the Burundi President
to act more aggressively as a possible strategy for ending
the political stalemate, and both seemed reluctant to
confront the President. In fact, the Speaker admitted his
fear of falling into a trap when asked by opposition members
within the National Assembly to facilitate meetings with
Nkurunziza or to deliver their written messages. Instead,
both leaders appealled to the international community for
assistance. It is yet to be seen if the political party
leaders understand that it is Burundians who must solve
Burundi's problems. End Comment.

MOLLER

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