Burundi's fighting sides to meet in Uganda amid deadly unrest

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Burundi's fighting sides are to meet on December 28 in Uganda to discuss the country's deadly political unrest, Uganda's defence minister said Saturday.

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Fourteen groups including Burundi's ruling party, opposition parties and civil society organizations are to attend the talks aimed at ending the violent political unrest in which hundreds have been killed, said Crispus Kiyonga, who is also the facilitator of the peace talks mediated by the East African Community. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will moderate the talks, he said.

The African Union on Friday authorized sending 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi to stop the violence over President Pierre Nkurunziza's extended tenure in office.

An African Prevention and Protection Mission will be deployed to Burundi for at least six months and the mission can be extended, the group's Peace and Security Council said. The force's mandate will include protecting civilians under imminent threat in the central African nation and helping to create conditions for holding inter-Burundian dialogue.

Eighty-seven people were killed last week when unidentified attackers struck at three military installations. Human rights groups have accused Burundi's security forces of extrajudicial killings of people in a counter-insurgency crackdown following the attack. Burundi's government has insisted its troops acted professionally.

At least 400 people have been killed since April 26, when the ruling party announced Nkurunziza's decision to run again, according to human rights groups. Nearly 3,500 people have been arrested in the political crisis and 220,000 people have fled the country.

Violence in Burundi has been escalating since Nkurunziza was re-elected in July for a third term. The move was opposed by many Burundians and the international community, who say it violates the country's constitution two-term limit. Nkurunziza argues that his first term in office does not count because he was elected by parliament and not by the people.

AP writer Elias Meseret contributed to this report from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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