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VP's resignation eases political deadlock

[Burundi] Burundi 1st Vice-President Martin Nduwimana, of the Union pour le progress national party. Place: Bujumbura, Burundi. [Date picture taken: 2005/08/29]
Martin Nduwimana, Burundi's First Vice-President (Judith Basutama/IRIN)

The resignation of First Deputy President Martin Nduwimana should help break a crippling political impasse and expedite peace talks in Burundi, according to an opposition leader.

Nduwimana resigned on 7 November, saying he wanted to give the country's institutions a chance to resume work.

“I handed my resignation to the head of state who accepted it,” Nduwimana said. “I don’t want to be an obstacle to peace.”

Burundi is struggling to recover from the devastation of a civil war that broke out in 1993 and raged for 13 years, pitting rebels from the Hutu majority against a long-dominant Tutsi minority.

Most of the numerous parties to the conflict have signed up to a peace process, but one Hutu rebel group, the National Liberation Front (FNL) continues to hold out.

“I hope the government will now have enough power and capacity to speed up negotiations with the FNL, but also rein in paramilitary groups who are robbing and killing innocent civilians,” Pierre Claver Nahimana, a leading member of parliament for the opposition Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), told IRIN in reaction to the resignation.

FRODEBU and another opposition party, the Union for National Progress, to which Nduwimana belonged until it ousted him in August, have been pushing for the replacement of the entire cabinet amid accusations of corruption and human rights abuses.

The two parties also boycotted parliament and the row has prevented any legislation being debated since August.

“The people of Burundi are distraught to see large amounts of money embezzled and the government doing nothing, while their living conditions are worsening day after day,” Nahimana said.

Nduwayo Gaspard, a political analyst and university lecturer, was less optimistic about the effects of the resignation.

“I don’t see where a deputy president could get the power and strength to give the country a new direction. The two deputy presidents have no powers and cannot impose anything, they do not even have control of the ministers,” Nduwayo said.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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