Burundi: Government, rebels in talks again

DAR ES SALAAM, 3 March (IRIN) - Burundi's transitional government and the country's main rebel movement, Pierre Nkurunziza's faction of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD), recommitted themselves on Sunday to implementing past agreements to end nearly 10 years of civil war.
The commitment was made in a joint communiqué they signed at the end of a two-day regional summit on Burundi in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, and South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who is the facilitator of the Burundi ceasefire agreement signed by warring factions, attended the summit. CNDD-FDD Secretary-General Hussein Radjabu represented Nkurunziza, who had been invited to the meeting, AFP reported. They met in an effort to break the stalemate over full implementation of the ceasefire.

CNDD-FDD complained that the government had blocked deliveries of food and medical supplies to its fighters, and violated the ceasefire. In their joint communique, both sides vowed to implement the agreement relating to the distribution of food at two points in the provinces of Bubanza and Ruyigi respectively.

They agreed to share power in accordance with the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement and the 2 December 2002 ceasefire agreement, details of which are to be finalised between the concerned parties.

"It was further confirmed that all affected political players will be given immunity from prosecution in the interim, in line with the Arusha agreement of 2000," the communiqué said.

Both parties also agreed on the need for a new constitution for Burundi, in which elements of the 1992 document, the Arusha agreement, as well as other related documents, would be considered.

However, in its own communique, also released on Sunday, the CNDD-FDD decried the lack of a cessation of hostilities; that the negotiations on the Forces Technical Agreement had not been concluded; and that liaison teams had not been set up.

In addition, the CNDD-FDD criticised what it described as the ambiguous nature of the deployment of the African Union's observer mission. "The composition, mandate, engagement manual, terms of reference and deployment of the observers of the African [Union] Mission should be clearly defined and submitted for the approval of the CNDD-FDD and the transitional government," the CNDD-FDD stated.

It also asked that another two weeks be allowed for it and the transitional government "to conclude negotiations on all the political and the defence and security questions", and urged that "every effort" be made to ensure that the peacekeeping mission was operational by the end of March.

Sunday's commitment came a week after Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD suspended all talks with the government.


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