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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
'Breakthrough' in Burundi talks
President Domitien Ndayizeye and soldiers
Hutu rebels want 75% of their men in a future national army
The authorities in Burundi have said that there has been a breakthrough in talks to end the war between the government and rebels forces.

The main rebel group, Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD), reiterated its commitment to implement the ceasefire agreement signed in January in South Africa.

However, President Domitien Ndayizeye of Burundi and FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza, who attended the talks, failed to agree on the extension of the mandate of the African peacekeeping force currently deployed in Burundi, as sought by regional leaders.

I call on the FNL to join in the peace process - this is the last time my government will do so
Benjamin Mkapa
Tanzanian President

The smallest and the oldest Hutu rebel group, FNL which had refused to take part in the inter-regional talks in Tanzania's capital, Dar es Salaam, has called for mediation by the former chief negotiator Nelson Mandela.

It accused the current mediator, Jacob Zuma of bias.

'Tutsi army control'

FNL, which is responsible for this month's major assault in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, insists on talking only to the minority Tutsi command of the army and top Tutsi politicians.

The attacks have killed 300 rebels and about 15 government troops.

FDD rebels also have continued to attack civilians and army positions across Burundi although they had signed the ceasefire in December 2002.

They argue that the minority Tutsi still have too much control over the army.

FDD rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza (l) and FDD fighters
The FDD rebels say they are committed to ceasefire

Hutu rebels want to see 75% of their own men in any future national army and also demand 50% of the posts in the future transition government - something rejected by both the Tutsi leadership and moderate Hutu leaders such as President Ndayizeye.

'Last time'

The Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa - who with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni brokered the talks - urged the FNL to engage in negotiations.

"I call on the FNL to cease fighting and to join in the peace process - this is the last time my (Tanzanian) government will do so," Mr Mkapa said.

On Tuesday, Mr Museveni had called for the reinforcement of the peacekeeping force and a wider mandate to retaliate militarily against the FNL.

The role of South African and Mozambican troops in Burundi is limited to facilitating the demobilisation of armed rebels from groups that have signed the ceasefire.

A statement from the summit said that a full regional summit to be convened within three weeks, "will receive reports of this consultative meeting and finalise all outstanding matters".

Burundi talks open in Tanzania
20 Jul 03  |  Africa
Burundi force to be 'beefed up'
18 Jul 03  |  Africa
African peace force in Burundi
28 Apr 03  |  Africa
Burundi rebels end peace talks
21 Feb 03  |  Africa
Thousands flee Burundi fighting
22 Jan 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Burundi
25 Apr 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Burundi
25 Apr 03  |  Country profiles


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