Burundi peace agreement signed

The government of Burundi, led by President Pierre Nkurunziza, and the leader of the last armed rebel group in Burundi (Pelipehutu-FNL) Mr. Agathon Rwasa, yesterday signed a Comprehensive Ceasefire Peace agreement in Dar-es-Salaam paving way for FNL to join the government of national unity in Bujumbura.

The signing ceremony came at the conclusion of the 25th Summit of the Regional Initiative on Burundi Chaired by President Yoweri Museveni who is also the Chairman of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi. The ceremony was witnessed among others by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania who is also Vice-Chairman of the Regional Initiative, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa whose country played the role of facilitator on Burundi Peace Process and Prime Minister Bernard Makuza of Rwanda.

President Museveni saluted the parties in Burundi for their wisdom. He expressed gladness that Pelipehutu-FNL had now come to the peace process in Burundi. He added that the act will mean that the country will, from now on, not follow non-democratic channels of resolving issues and embrace the democratic channels of resolving them.

He observed that the success reached yesterday in Dar-es-Salaam showed that 3 levels of partnership-national parties in Burundi, regional and international communities, had worked together to realize the signing of the ceasefire peace agreement. He saluted the region, late Mwalimu Nyerere, former President Nelson Mandela and other regional leaders for expending their energies to achieve peace in Burundi.

"I salute Barundi and the region for delivering Burundi out of chaos into democracy", Mr. Museveni said. He urged the people of Burundi to make war become taboo in their country adding that "once war becomes taboo, Barundi need to get in the habit of democracy through elections", he emphasized.

He reminded the people of Burundi that elections are the best and cheap way of ensuring democracy. He expressed hope that yesterdays summit would be the last one on Burundi in a quest to solve that country's problems.

President Pierre Nkurunziza commended all countries in the region, the African Union and the United Nations for the contribution to the peace process in his country. He said that the peace agreement is manifestation of the desire of the Barundi to work for the consolidation of peace and reconstruction.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa urged the Barundi to ensure that peace takes root in their country adding that this should be the dawning of an era of peace so that the suffering of the people of Burundi comes to an end.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa expressed the hope that there would never be any more war in Burundi. He assured the Barundi of "South Africa's continued walk with them" as they work for peace and reconstruction of their country.

On his part, Agathon Rwasa of FNL assured the summit that the agreement marked the beginning of a new era. He gave assurance that the people of Burundi shall always cherish the assistance by the region to Burundi as they struggle to adhere to democracy.