Thirty-five AU observers from Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo and Tunisia have arrived in the capital, Bujumbura. They are scheduled to be followed by a peacekeeping force which will oversee rebel disarmament.
"These observers whom we are talking about are unknown to the CNDD-FDD since nothing was negotiated with the [CNDD-FDD] movement on the matter. Their deployment will have no impact on the ground. We are not at all involved in their deployment. If anything happens to them, as we have said in our statement number 11 of 21 February 2003, we will not be held responsible," the radio quoted Daniel Ndabirabe, the CNDD-FDD spokesman, as saying.
On 21 February, the rebel group suspended talks with the transitional government headed by President Pierre Buyoya, accusing it of failing to respect a ceasefire accord signed on 3 December 2002, and another agreement signed on 27 January on the implementation of the accord.
Ndabirabe told Radio publique africaine that CNDD-FDD would not assume responsibility for the observers' security "since we have negotiated nothing on the matter - be it their identity, their mode of choice and their time of arrival in the country. Their deployment concerns only Maj Buyoya."
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Buyoya had called for the rapid deployment of the observers. "It is essential to accelerate the mechanisms of monitoring the ceasefire which have been promised by the international community, because... without exterior neutral observation, incidents may happen," Reuters quoted Buyoya as saying on arrival in Bujumbura on Monday after a trip to Libya and Europe.
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