Burundi govt, rebels to probe truce violations

News and Press Release
Originally published
DAR ES SALAAM, June 14 (Reuters) - Burundi's government and the sole rebel group still fighting it agreed on Tuesday to probe violations of a ceasefire they agreed last month as part of efforts to end the country's long civil war.

Burundi, a nation of seven million, is slowly emerging from 12 years of war pitting majority Hutus against the politically dominant Tutsi minority. Some 300,000 people have been killed.

Fresh talks between the government and the hardline Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) guerrilla group have raised hopes among diplomats that Burundi can finally lift one of its last big barriers to peace.

"Both parties reiterated their commitment to achieving the comprehensive and permanent ceasefire agreement and to putting in place an adequate monitoring and verification mechanisms," said a joint statement by the government and the FNL.

The statement was issued after several days of peace talks in the Tanzanian commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.

"We all agreed that the declaration was broken and we decided that both parties should carry out investigations as to who violated it," FNL official Ibrahim Ntakirutimana told Reuters.

"The meeting was successful because we sat and talked and agreed to continue talking."

The FNL on Friday accused the government of breaking a cessation of hostilities agreement signed by President Domitien Ndayizeye and FNL leader Agathon Rwasa on May 15, after the two leaders' first face-to-face talks in Dar es Salaam.

The FNL and Burundi's army have clashed sporadically since the truce last month.

The joint statement also said that both groups would abide by the truce and avoid further hostilities.

Burundi broke off all contact with the FNL last year after the rebels said they were responsible for the massacre of more than 160 Congolese Tutsi at a refugee camp in west Burundi.

Since the massacre, countries that shepherded Burundi's peace process have dubbed the FNL a terrorist organisation -- a label they have said they will lift formally when the FNL shows itself to be committed to peace talks.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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