Burundi + 1 more

Burundi peace negotiators run into another brick wall

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By Nicodemus Odhiambo, PANA Correspondent
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - One of the key rebel groups in Burundi's decade-old civil war has ceased negotiations with the interim government in Bujumbura, casting a shadow over another round of peace talks in the pipeline.

A spokesperson for the CNDD-FDD led by Pierre Nkurunziza told PANA Tuesday that any future meetings with President Pierre Buyoya's government would be possible only if it starts fulfilling several agreements reached between the two sides in the last the two months.

These include a cease-fire agreement signed in Arusha last December and a joint declaration on the cessation of hostilities signed on 27 January in Pretoria, South Africa.

"None of these declarations has been implemented on the ground," CNDD-FDD secretary general Hussein Rajabu said, adding "we are now appealing to the region and the facilitator [Jacob Zuma] to prevail on Buyoya to honour these declarations."

Rajabu charged that "many agreements have been signed by Buyoya, but none of them has been implemented," adding "we have stopped meeting him because he does not honour these commitments."

He said the transitional government had, for example, unilaterally breached a clause in the Pretoria agreement providing food to the armed wing of the CNDD-FDD in the provinces of Bubanza and Ruyigi, consequently blocking humanitarian assistance from the European Union to the movement's armed wing.

Rajabu also charged that some decisions on the implementation of the December cease-fire agreement are "harshly taken without the CNDD-FDD and without taking into account the negotiations and modalities for their implementation."

In an ultimatum issued in Dar es Salaam, the movement demands that an African Mission force due deployment in Burundi be despatched rapidly, and that it should be involved in approving troops from South Africa, Ethiopia and Mozambique, which have volunteered peacekeepers, warning "otherwise the CNDD-FDD will consider them as peace disrupters in Burundi."

According to the ultimatum, the CNND-FDD wants the Great Lakes region to appoint a country or countries to oversee the implementation of agreements reached between it and the Burundi government. It said Bujumbura was taking advantage of this vacuum to launch attacks against its positions.

If the situation remained the same as it is today, the agreements would never be implemented despite the hope Burundians and the international community had placed in it, the movement warned.

"Ongoing attacks on civilians and CNDD-FDD positions by the transitional government of Burundi show sufficiently that Buyoya signs different agreements to distract the international community," the movement said.

"The CNDD-FDD will defend themselves, push back the authors of those attacks and pursue them if necessary," it added.

The CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza is one of four main armed movements opposed to the Burundi government.

Others include the CNDD-FDD faction led by Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the Palipehutu-Forces for National Liberation (Palipehutu-FNL) led by Alain Mugabarabona and Palipehutu-FNL led by Agathon Rwasa, which has not signed any cease-fire agreement.

Rajabu said facilitator Zuma is now to report to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who is chairing the Regional Initiative on Burundi.

President Museveni is "due to call a regional summit to review progress made and consider outstanding matters in the negotiations," Rajabu affirmed.

An estimated 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the brutal 10-year civil war in Burundi, which continues unabated with current offensives resulting in an influx of new refugees to neighbouring Tanzania.

According to a power-sharing peace agreement reached in Arusha in 2000, Tutsi President Buyoya is to step down and swap places with his Hutu vice president Domitién Ndayizeye next 1 May, after 18 months at the helm of the country's 36-month transitional leadership.

Pan African News Agency
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