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 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 15:46 GMT
Burundi rivals want African peace force
South African troops in Burundi
South African troops are already in Bujumbura
President Pierre Buyoya and the main rebel leader have called for the swift deployment of African peacekeeping troops

Mr Buyoya and Pierre Nkurunziza from the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) made the call after meeting in the South African city of Pretoria.

I believe that by next week we will be in a position to see the African mission force landing in Bujumbura

Jacob Zuma
South African Vice President
South African Vice President Jacob Zuma said the troops could be ready next week, in a bid to stop the fighting which has broken out, despite a ceasefire the two signed last month.

South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia have promised to contribute soldiers to the African peace force.

A power-sharing agreement between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis, brokered by former South African President Nelson Mandela, has failed to end the fighting.

The rebels say that having Hutu ministers and even a president means nothing while the army is still dominated by the Tutsi minorities.

Another rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) has refused to sign a ceasefire.

Bodyguards

"The parties... urged the facilitator to expedite the processes that will lead to the rapid deployment of the African (peacekeeping) mission in Burundi," Mr Nkurunziza and Mr Buyoya said in a statement after signing their latest agreement.

FDD rebels
Rebels are supposed to join a new army

"I believe that by next week we will be in a position to see the African mission force landing in Bujumbura," Mr Zuma said.

However, the number of troops involved is still not known.

South African has some 700 troops in Burundi guaranteeing the security of Hutu politicians in Bujumbura.

Last week, up to 60,000 people were reported to have fled recent fighting between the army and FDD rebels in central Burundi.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in Burundi's 10-year civil war.

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  ON THIS STORY
  Mr Gerard, UN Humanitarian Affairs on Network Africa
"The situation is still unstable in certain areas"

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22 Jan 03 | Africa
15 Jan 03 | Africa
14 Jan 03 | Africa
16 Dec 02 | Africa
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