BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Burundi's government has announced it will not attend the latest effort at peace talks with the opposition in neighboring Tanzania, eroding hopes for a negotiated settlement to the East African nation's often violent political crisis.
The government did not send negotiators to Arusha, Tanzania, where talks had been set to resume Thursday, because it cannot negotiate "with people pursued by our justice," government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said in a statement late Wednesday.
He said some members of the opposition delegation are wanted back home for alleged offenses against the state.
Burundi has been plagued by violence since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided he would seek a disputed third term, which he later won.
Burundi's government also opposes the presence of U.N. special adviser Jamal Benomar at the Arusha talks.
"We regret the decision by any invited participant to decline attendance of the consultations," the deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters Thursday. "The UN will continue to support the process."
The group CNARED, which unites some opposition politicians now living in exile, has said it was ready for the resumption of talks.
Burundi has seen violent street protests, forced disappearances and assassinations since April 2015, forcing more than 380,000 to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Most are in Tanzania.
Hundreds of people have been killed, and at least one armed group has been launched against Nkurunziza.
Burundi's government has resisted international efforts to deploy peacekeepers in the country to help calm tensions.