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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Tutsis boycott Burundi cabinet
President Ndayizeye
President Ndayizeye must organise elections by end of October
Ministers from Burundi's leading Tutsi parties have boycotted a cabinet meeting called to discuss the drafting of a new constitution.

Last month, the Uprona party and its nine allies refused to sign a South African-brokered power-sharing deal, to form the basis of the constitution.

They want further dialogue about power-sharing between Hutus and Tutsis, who make up 15% of the population.

Without a new constitution, elections due by 31 October cannot go ahead.

Political process jeopardised

The boycotters, led by Vice-President Alfons Marie Kadege, said they were not withdrawing from government.

But they insisted there needed to be a "national consensus" on power-sharing or the whole political peace process would be jeopardised.

POWER SHARING
National Assembly:
60% Hutu, 40% Tutsis
3 Twa seats
Government:
60% Hutu, 40% Tutsis
Senate:
50% Hutu, 50% Tutsis
3 Twa seats

Reacting to the boycott, presidential spokesman Panrace Cimpaye said as ministers in government they are beholden to President Domitien Ndayizeye, not their individual parties.

The cabinet meeting, he stressed, was to discuss a new constitution, not impose it, and as such was the dialogue the Tutsi parties were calling for.

The Pretoria accords state the national assembly and government comprise 60% ethnic Hutus and 40% Tutsis.

But Uprona wants seats to be given to parties as well as ethnic groups.

The Burundi parliament approved on Tuesday an independent electoral commission which includes three Hutus and two Tutsis to oversee the country's first elections.

Some 300,000 people have been killed since the civil war broke out in 1993.

About 5,000 United Nations peacekeepers are in the country to support the South African-brokered peace process.




SEE ALSO:
Tutsis boycott Burundi talks
27 Jul 04  |  Africa
Country profile: Burundi
26 Feb 04  |  Country profiles


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