Burundi

Burundi: President calls for African peacekeeping force

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ADDIS ABABA, 4 February (IRIN) - Burundi President Pierre Buyoya called on Monday for an African peacekeeping force to help resolve the bitter civil war in the tiny Central Africa state.
He told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, that he welcomed the African Union's (AU) decision in January to deploy a military mission to oversee ceasefires signed by the Burundi government and rebel groups. Troops from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa are expected to be sent until a UN peacekeeping force replaces them. Buyoya was in Addis Ababa for the first AU summit that ended Monday, a day ahead of schedule.

While welcoming such a peacekeeping mission, he said Africa was not yet ready for a continental army - a suggestion that has been floated for decades. "The single army in Africa is an objective for the future," he said.

Burundi's civil war broke out in 1993 after soldiers from the minority Tutsi-dominated army killed the first democratically Hutu president. Hutu rebels continue to reject a ceasefire and have intensified their attacks since the new government was installed in November 2001.

The move to send in peacekeepers came after South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma visited the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in January. He is the facilitator of the Burundi ceasefire process, and has described the situation as "very urgent".

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, with the support of the international community, brokered a deal under which the Tutsi and Hutu communities would share power so as to end the war.

[ENDS]

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