East African Leaders Meet Wednesday in Tanzania

East African Community (EAC) leaders are meeting Wednesday in Arusha, Tanzania. The community, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda has been involved in mediating Burundi’s peace talks under the leadership of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. But those talks have so far failed to yield practical results.

Will President Nkurunziza attend?

The East African leaders are likely to get a report from President Museveni on how his mediation efforts have been going. But the key question about Wednesday’s Arusha summit is whether Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza will attend.

Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe would only tell VOA his country will be highly represented by the country’s second vice president.

“I believe that President Nkurunziza will be well represented at the summit, but I can confirm that it is rather the second vice president of the republic of Burundi who will be sitting for him.”

South Africa and Burundi

The Burundian government said last month it would welcome any offer by South Africa to facilitate the ongoing inter-Burundian dialogue. Foreign Minister Nyamitwe said South Africa played a critical role in the Burundian peace process in the late 1990s and early 2000.

He said if South Africa offers to facilitate the dialogue, its role would not be incompatible, but rather complementary to what’s being done by President Museveni and the East Africa Community.

South African President Jacob Zuma led the African Union delegation that visited Burundi last week.

A promise to Ban Ki-moon

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also visited Bujumbura and held meetings with all stakeholders in the Burundian crisis. He said President Nkurunziza had promised to engage in “inclusive dialogue” with the opposition to end the Burundi’s months-long political crisis.

Foreign Minister Nyamitwe played down expectations that the summit will focus on the Burundian crisis.

“The summit could receive a report from President Museveni on how the facilitation role has been done so far. But I think there is no particular issue on the agenda. Now, it could be raised by one head of state or another. But I don’t think that Burundi will dominate the summit,” Nyamitwe said.

But Nyamitwe said if Burundi comes up during the summit, his government will listen to what the other partners will have to say.

Military advisers to Burundi

The African Union said on Monday that it will send 200 military advisers and human rights observers to Burundi,

Nyamitwe said his government is working out the details for the arrival of proposed African Union military advisers and human rights monitors.

Admission of South Sudan and Somalia to the EAC

Among other issues, the Arusha summit is expected to consider is the admission of South Sudan into the East African Community.

The summit is also expected to deliberate on a report on the admission of Somalia into the EAC.

The East African leaders are also expected to discuss the “Modalities for Promotion of Motor Vehicle Assembly in the region and Reduction of the Importation of Used Motor Vehicles from Outside the Community, and; the Promotion of the Textile and Leather Industries in the region, and stopping importation of Used Clothes, Shoes and Other Leather Products from outside the region,” according to a release from the EAC secretariat.

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