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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK
UN team meets Burundi leaders
South African peacekeepers leave for Burundi
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By Helen Vesperini
BBC correspondent in Bujumbura

The United Nations Security Council delegation touring the countries involved in the war in Congo is currently meeting the transitional government in Congo's tiny neighbour, Burundi, in an attempt to promote peace.

But nine years of fighting here have left more than 200,000 people dead, even if all-out military offensives, be it by Hutu rebels or by the Tutsi-dominated army, are the exception.

Rebels launch raids, burn a couple of houses but spare properties belonging to their relatives.

The army does stage offensives on the rebel strongholds of Kibira Forest, but on other occasions government troops appear to accept the presence of the rebels as a fact of life.

The war has pitted two rebel groups against the government: the National Liberation Forces (FNL), whose bases are in the refugee camps in neighbouring Tanzania, and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), based in Congo.

To complicate matters further, the FDD has now split into two.

The wing led by Jean Bosco Ndayikengirukiye has been meeting the government for talks.

The other wing, under Pierre Nkurunziza, says it will only negotiate with the army, and that the army must first explain the 1993 assassination of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye - a demand that will rule out any talks.

As for the FNL, militarily they have been weakened but, as hardline Hutu extremists, they have no intention of negotiating with the transitional government.

And to cap it all, mediation efforts have been going on for so long here that rivalry has started between the different mediators, with regional analysts accusing the European Union of trying to sabotage South Africa's peace initiatives.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Africa
Burundi refugees return home
04 Jan 02 | Africa
Peacekeeper murdered in Burundi
28 Oct 01 | Africa
Peacekeepers arrive in Burundi
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