President of Burundi agrees to talks and lifting of restrictions: UN chief

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) is welcomed by Gaston Sindimwo (centre right), First Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi, on his arrival in Bujumbura. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The President of Burundi has agreed to "inclusive dialogue" with opposition parties and the lifting of other government restrictions, following talks with the UN Secretary General.

Ban Ki-moon said that he had been "very much encouraged" by the willingness of government and opposition leaders to meet at his invitation on Monday evening.

Matthew Wells has more.

The UN Secretary-General arrived in Burundi on Monday in an effort to help resolve the months-long political crisis there.

Civil unrest began last April, when the president announced he would seek an amendment to the constitution and run for a contested third term.

More than 400 people have been killed in on-going violence since then and well over 200,000 displaced.

The UN Security Council and other UN experts have warned that the country may be on the brink of a descent into genocide, similar to neighbouring Rwanda in the 1990s.

Speaking on Tuesday after his meeting with President Pierre Nkurunziza, the UN chief said the president had pledged to release detainees, among other measures.

"I welcome the decision by his excellency President Nkurunziza to withdraw some media bans, cancel the arrest warrants and release detainees as a good-will gesture."

Mr Ban is not the only influential figure due in Burundi this week to push for an end to the political crisis. A delegation of five African leaders is due to visit as part of an African Union delegation.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’01″

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