Burundi: Chronology of events during 2002

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAIROBI, 17 January (IRIN) - 31 January - Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa agrees to hold talks with the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) and the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), with the aim of ending Burundi's civil war.
22 February - The EC announces a donation of US $15.3 million in humanitarian aid for Burundi. The money will be channelled through the EC's humanitarian aid office, ECHO, and distributed among aid agencies, UN agencies and the Red Cross. The funds are to cover the most pressing humanitarian needs and pave the way for structural aid, the commission says.

22 February - Burundi's transitional government and a faction of the CNDD-FDD agree in South Africa on a general framework for negotiations intended to lead to a definitive agreement on a ceasefire and the restoration of democracy.

28 March - A large-scale operation to repatriate tens of thousands of Burundian refugees in Tanzania begins. The first convoy to be organised by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) leaves Ngara in northwestern Tanzania through the Kobero border crossing. As at 25 March, 48,000 people had signed up with UNHCR for repatriation under a tripartite agreement with the Tanzanian and Burundi governments and the UNHCR.

3-5 April - At a tripartite meeting of Burundi, Tanzanian and UNHCR officials it is decided that the agency will not facilitate the repatriation of Burundi refugees to the southern provinces of the country, for security reasons. Specifically, Makamba and Ruyigi provinces are considered too unsafe.

27 April - Delegates from the Burundi government and from the FDD hold preliminary talks in the South African administrative capital, Pretoria, on ending the war. The talks had failed to start on 22 April after most of the FDD delegation had been held up in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, because they could not secure travel documents from Tanzanian authorities.

4 June - Deliveries of food and non-food items begin to some 33,790 displaced people in Ruyigi, eastern Burundi, after government clears humanitarian bodies to start the operation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Burundi says. The World Food Programme (WFP) spearheads the effort with deliveries to the district of Nyabitsinda.

11 June - The leader of a Tutsi anti-genocide organisation, Diomede Rutamucero, is released from Mpimba Central Prison in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, after being held for 40 days without charge. Rutamucero, who is the president of Puissance d'Autodefense-Amasekanya, was arrested on 2 May after members of his organisation staged a protest in Bujumbura against the Arusha peace accord and the adoption of laws on provisional immunity for returning political leaders, many of whom they hold responsible for massacres of Tutsis.

17 June - A campaign to vaccinate some 3.9 million Burundian children against measles and polio is launched, with UN agencies appealing to parties at war in the country to observe "days of tranquillity" to ensure health workers can conduct their work in safety.

25 June - Constanza Adinolfi, the director of ECHO, arrives in Tanzania on the second leg of her three-nation visit to East Africa. She visits refugee camps in Tanzania from which some Burundians were being repatriated.

29 June - Former Burundi President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza home after four years of self-imposed exile, saying he wants to take part in the nation's political life.

2 July - Faced with dwindling funds, Action by Churches Together (ACT) appeals to international donors for US $268,684 to enable it to persevere with its humanitarian task with Burundian refugees in Tanzania.

1 July - Ambassador Berhanu Dinka, the UN Secretary-General's newly appointed Special Representative for Burundi, sets up his office in Bujumbura, officially assuming his duties.

7 August - Delegations to hold "preliminary consultations" aimed at laying the technical groundwork for planned ceasefire negotiations arrive in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. A delegation of South African mediators joins the Burundi government team, led by the presidential adviser, Ambroise Niyonsaba, and delegates from rival factions of the FDD. However, another Hutu rebel group, the FNL, does not take part.

8 August - The FNL's 30-member Higher Revolutionary Council sacks its president, Agathon Rwasa, replacing him temporarily with Alain Mugabarabona. The council says it has taken the measure to stop the group from being transformed into "the property of one person, and into a secret religious sect by some political and military personnel".

12 August - Discussions on a draft ceasefire document between Burundi's transitional government and two Hutu rebel groups begin in Dar es Salaam. These represent the first direct talks between Burundi's transitional government and its enemies for the past nine years, the FDD, and the Parti pour la liberation du peuple hutu-FNL (Palipehutu-FNL).

19 August - A follow-up round of a polio vaccination campaign begins in six provinces bordering on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). All children five years old and below are targeted in the provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Bujumbura Urban, Bujumbura Rural, Makamba and Bururi. Vaccinations later extend into the provinces of Kayanza and Gitega, where, in 2000, the immunisation coverage rate was below 80 percent. Provisional figures for the first phase of the vaccinations show that all 627,720 children targeted were vaccinated.

20 August - Talks begin in earnest in Dar es Salaam on a draft ceasefire agreement between the smaller of two factions of a Hutu rebel group and the transitional government of Burundi.

26 August - At the adjournment of the latest round of ceasefire negotiations, a memorandum of understanding is signed in Dar es Salaam between the transitional government and the faction of the CNDD-FDD led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye. At this point, it is not clear what the agreement means in the context of the peace process, or the situation on the ground in Burundi, as there seems to be slight confusion over its interpretation.

29 August - At least 32,000 people in the central province of Gitega are in distress and in urgent need for humanitarian supplies, as a result of rebel attacks in July, the Burundian state-owned news agency, ABP, reports. The displaced are mostly concentrated in the communes of Giheta, Bugendana, Itaba, Nyarusange, Ryansoro and Gitega.

8 September - Four Burundian rebel movements say they must be included in all ceasefire negotiations with the government. A statement to this effect is issued by the chairmen of the four groups - Leonard Nyangoma of the CNDD, Joseph Karumba of the Front pour la liberation nationale (Frolina), Etiennne Karatasi of the Palipehutu, and Cossan Kabura of the FNL. In a statement, they declare that a "memorandum of understanding" reached between the transitional government and the CNDD-FDD led by Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye is not all-inclusive.

9 September - Unknown gunmen kill 183 people in Itaba Commune, Gitega Province, forcing the government to set up a commission of inquiry consisting of members of the army and Gitega officials.

10 September - A mass vaccination campaign begins in the northeastern province of Muyinga, to curb the spread of meningitis that has already killed 46 people in the country. A total of 549 cases are recorded countrywide, 272 of which are in Muyinga.

11 September - The Implementation Monitoring Committee of the Arusha peace accord urges donors and the international community to alleviate "the unbearable suffering" of the Burundian people by releasing funds to the country. The committee also congratulates the World Bank for its decision to immediately grant an economic rehabilitation loan of $54 million.

28 September - The UN Population Fund completes the largest collection of socio-demographic data since the civil war erupted in 1993. The information is designed to help health workers and government officials make better decisions about national development.

3 October - Net Press reports the detention of Maj Budigoma and Lt Ngendakuriyo at the Gitega Central Prison in connection with the killings in Itaba. Their arrest follows "intense pressure" from Hutu parties in the country.

7 October - The smaller factions of both Hutu groups still fighting the transitional government sign a formal ceasefire at a regional summit. Two remaining factions are given 30 days to comply or face the consequences. The groups that formalise the agreement in Dar es Salaam are Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye's CNDD-FDD, and Alain Mugarabona's Palipehutu-FNL.

9 October - The IMF approves an "immediately available" credit of $13 million in emergency post-conflict aid to support the government's reconstruction and economic recovery programme.

11 October - A South African soldier dies and three others go missing in a river during an airborne rescue exercise near Bujumbura. They were among 10 soldiers acting as victims in the river, waiting to be hoisted by a South African Air Force helicopter.

12 October - Some of the 3,000 refugees from Uvira, eastern DRC, between rival militia groups supported by either the DRC government or Rwanda, begin arriving in Burundi. OCHA says 2,000 of the refugees are being cared for on site at Gatumba, Burundi, about 30 km northeast of Uvira. The remaining 1,000 are scattered among the local Burundi population. The fighting is between the pro-Kinshasa government Mayi-Mayi militia who seized Uvira from forces of the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Goma.

23 October - The African Union, the continent's foremost political body, announces a $200,000 grant in support of the ongoing Burundi ceasefire negotiations. The grant comes as the second phase of the negotiations resume in Dar es Salaam.

29 October - Burundian officials begin ceasefire negotiations with the country's largest rebel group, raising hopes that an end to the nine-year civil war is in sight. Acting under the facilitation of South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the Pierre Nkurunziza faction of the CNDD-FDD shifts from insisting on a cessation of hostilities as a condition to ceasefire talks, to going directly into negotiating a ceasefire.

4 November - Bagaza is placed under house arrest in Bujumbura. Minister of Home Affairs and Public Security Salvator Ntihabose says, "We have uncovered that he has a plan to destabilise and even to shed blood." Ntihabose was speaking after eight grenades exploded in the capital's residential districts of Ngagara, Nyakabiga and Musaga.

8 November - The WFP begins distribution of 58 mt of food to 15,000 internally displaced people in the Mugera Commune of Gitega Province.

18 November - the new Radio Isanganiro begin broadcasting primarily targeting people in internally displaced and refugee camps. Station Manager Jeannine Nahigombeye says, "The aim of the radio is, as its name signifies, to be a meeting point for everyone: ordinary citizens, politicians, civil society."

19 November - The UN in Burundi appeals for $69.70 million to address the humanitarian needs of Burundians in 2003.

20 November - Electronic maps, judged vital to humanitarian monitoring and planning, are launched in Bujumbura. An initiative of the UN Children's Fund and the Ministry of Interior's population department, the maps are being made available in Burundi for the first time, for use by planners in the government, UN agencies and NGOs.

28 November - A two-day international donors' conference on Burundi ends in Geneva with a pledge of $905 million to support war recovery efforts. Burundi's budgetary and balance-of-payments-support needs for 2002-2005, tabled at the conference, amount to $787.5 million, including the current debts for the period, estimated at $173.9 million. The country's remaining deficit to be cleared is put at $340 million, in terms of budgetary and balance-of-payments aid.

3 December - The Burundian government and Pierre Nkurunziza's element of the CNDD-FDD, the main faction of the country's largest rebel group, sign a ceasefire accord. The deal ends the 19th regional summit on Burundi. The rivals appear to compromise over the outstanding military and political issues that had blocked the talks and threatened the entire peace process.

3 December - WFP appeals for 44,000 mt of food to help feed at least a million Burundians until the main harvest in April 2003. The agency says that the rains having been affected by a two-month delay combined with a poor harvest from the previous growing season could "by as early as this month" cause the number of people needing relief aid to rise from 580,000 to 1.2 million.

11 December - WFP, in partnership with CARE, begin distributing 175 mt of food to some 30,000 displaced people in the commune of Mpanda in the northwestern province of Bubanza.

20 December - A thousand people begin fleeing to the Burundi town of Gatumba, on the border with the DRC, following fighting between Mayi-Mayi militia and the former rebel group, the Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie-National.

29 December - The German aid agency, GTZ, begins distributing food aid to former CNDD-FDD rebels. The month-long effort targets 14,000 former fighters in Kayange of the Musigati Commune within the Kibira Forest of northwestern Bubanza Province, the CNDD-FDD's stronghold.

30 December - The definitive implementation of a ceasefire agreement between the transitional government and a rebel group, due to have come into force is delayed. Foreign Minister Terence Sinunguruza says implementation is contingent upon the arrival of an African mission to monitor the application of the ceasefire accord and set up cantonment camps, and the establishment of a joint ceasefire commission.


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