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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 December, 2003, 17:37 GMT
Burundi rebels say sorry for war
FDD rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza (l) and FDD fighters
Pierre Nkurunziza (l) arrives in the capital for the first time since 1993
A Hutu rebel leader in Burundi has asked for forgiveness for the harm his group caused civilians during the 10-year civil war.

But Pierre Nkurunziza, of Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), said the war had been "forced on us".

He was speaking on arrival in Burundi's capital Bujumbura to take up the job of Minister for Good Governance in the new power-sharing government.

A smaller Hutu rebel group has refused to negotiate and is continuing attacks.

Mr Nkurunziza arrived in Bujumbura on Saturday for the first time since the war began in 1993, which led to the deaths of more than 300,000 people.

"We take this opportunity to ask forgiveness from the people of Burundi for all the harm we have done to them because of a war that was forced on us," he told a news conference.

"For our part, we forgive those who imposed this war on us," he added.

Mr Nkurunziza takes up the third most important government job following a peace accord signed in November.

A handful of other government portfolios have been given to other FDD leaders.


However, the smaller Hutu rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), have so far refused to recognise the government.

FNL members met senior Tutsi government figures at a secret location in Nairobi earlier in the week.

4 FDD ministers
40% of army officers
15 MPs
Second assembly vice-president
Assembly deputy secretary general
2 ambassadors
35% of a new police force
35% of vacant secret service posts
FDD fighters to be demobilised

A spokesman stressed they did not recognise the legitimacy of the government, and were meeting officials and military leaders merely in their capacity as members of the Tutsi minority.

"We are not negotiating with the government of President Domitien Ndayizeye, but with Tutsi delegates," FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told AFP news agency.

In Bujumbura, the new FDD ministers said they were happy to return home from exile under the terms of the peace agreement.

Burundi rebel deadline rejected
17 Nov 03  |  Africa
Burundi foes agree to end war
08 Oct 03  |  Africa
Burundi power transfer hailed
01 May 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Burundi
04 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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