In a statement issued on Thursday, the spokeswoman for the South African presidency, Lakela Kaunda, said the AU mission in Burundi was being established under the terms of ceasefire agreements signed by Burundian parties in 2002.
Nhlapo also leads Deputy President Zuma's Burundi Task Team. Nhlapo is a former deputy director-general for Africa in South Africa's Department of Foreign Affairs and has also served as the country's ambassador to the AU in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
"I am confident that Ambassador Nhlapo will represent us well and that he will play a key role in ensuring that the African Mission becomes a success, and to assist us to achieve the objectives of a return of peace and stability in Burundi," Zuma was quoted as saying. "He has worked tirelessly on the Burundi peace process already and has a clear vision of what is required to fulfil this demanding responsibility."
The head of the mission would be appointed by the Great Lakes Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi, chaired by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Lakela said.
The objectives of the AU mission, scheduled to exist for an initial period of one year, include peacekeeping, overseeing the implementation of the ceasefire agreements, supporting disarmament and demobilisation, and advising on the reintegration of combatants.
The mission is expected to "strive towards creating conditions conducive to the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Burundi," Kaunda said. The mission would also facilitate the activities of the Joint Ceasefire Commission and technical committees to achieve the establishment of a new national defence and police force in Burundi.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently appointed the Chief of Staff of the UN Mission in the Congo, Alioune Samba, interim chairman of the ceasefire commission in Burundi.
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