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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 18:52 GMT
Hutu hardliner becomes Burundi Speaker
Pierre Buyoya, Nelson Mandela, Jean Minani
Nelson Mandela helped to negotiate the deal
Burundi has elected Hutu hardliner, Jean Minani, the speaker of its new Transitional Assembly.

The Frodebu party leader secured 115 votes from among the 169 MPs.

Dr Jean Minani, the leader of the main Hutu party, Frodebu, which is opposed to violence, beat his opponent, Augustin Nzojibwami, who heads the dissident wing of Frodebu.

Speaking to BBC shortly after his victory, he said that democracy had been reborn in Burundi.

Minani's priorities
Promote democratic culture in the parliament
Allow political debates without fear
Pressure to bring fighting groups into talks
Work towards ending war

"Today democracy resumes its normal course. We hope nobody will stop it."

Despite recent progress, including a power sharing government between Hutu's and Tutsis, two Hutu groups remain outside the peace process and Burundi's eight year civil war continues.

Negotiated deal

Correspondents say that news of his appointment has not surprised Burundians.

Reports suggested that the job was being saved for Mr Minani as soon as he returned from exile in Tanzania, just before the power-sharing transitional government was set up in November last year.

We continue to implement the agreement we made in Arusha

Burundi Speaker Jean Minani

The Speaker post was thought to be part of a deal agreed between President Pierre Buyoya, the Burundi peace chief negotiator, Nelson Mandela and Dr Minani.

Two other contenders withdrew their candidacy before the vote, including the former vice president of the preceding government, Frederick Bazivanyungila, who was advised by his party to remove his name from the Speaker race.

Implementing Arusha

The parliament also elected Frederic Ngenze Buhoro from the former ruling Tutsi party, Uprona, as the deputy speaker,

Political commentators say that the Burundi peace process is gradually being implemented bringing together Tutsi and Hutu hardliners.

Dr Minani has told the BBC that he is optimistic that the democratic process in Burundi is now back on track.

He says that parliamentarians have "demonstrated that they understand the importance of implementing the peace agreement" and that it is "possible to hold democratic elections in Burundi".

Dr. Jean Minani, new Burundi Speaker
"My immediate task is to implement in our national assembly the culture of democracy"
See also:

04 Jan 02 | Africa
Peacekeeper murdered in Burundi
11 Jan 02 | Africa
Aid worker murdered in Burundi
14 Dec 01 | Africa
Rights group slates Burundi
19 Nov 01 | Africa
Rebel attack in Burundi capital
12 Nov 01 | Africa
Students flee Burundi rebels
09 Nov 01 | Africa
UN calls for ceasefire in Burundi
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