NAIROBI, 24 January (IRIN) - South
African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the mediator of the Burundi peace
process, held meetings this week with three rebel leaders on the implementation
of ceasefire agreements.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Zuma's spokesman, Lakela Kaunda, said the meetings were part of a series planned with the leaders following Zuma's visit last week to Burundi and Ethiopia, the headquarters of the African Union.
On Tuesday, Zuma met Alain Mugabarabona, leader of the Parti de liberation du peuple hutu-Forces nationales de liberation and Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the leader of a faction of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Force pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD). Earlier, on 17 January, Zuma met Pierre Nkurunziza, the leader of the other CNDD-FDD faction.
Mugabarabona and Ndayikengurukiye signed a ceasefire accord with the Burundi transitional government on 7 October 2002. Nkurunziza's movement subsequently signed a similar accord on 2 December.
Kaunda said President Pierre Buyoya, Mugabarabona and Ndayikengurukiye had already set up specialised teams to deal with the different aspects of the implementation of their accord. These included the return of former fighters and leaders to Burundi, the participation of the former armed movements in the transitional institutions of the state and parliament, and issues relating to the disarmament, demobilisation and the building up of a new inclusive security apparatus.
During Tuesday's meeting, Mugabarabona and Ndayikengurukiye informed Zuma that they would return from exile to Burundi in two weeks. The date of their return will be announced after discussions on Saturday between the two and Buyoya. They also told Zuma that they had concluded discussions on assembly points for their combatants in Burundi, and that their technical teams were working on the remaining details relating to the implementation of the ceasefire accord, in preparation for their Saturday meeting.
Buyoya is scheduled to meet Nkurunziza on Sunday. The two were initially due to have met on 20 January, but Nkurunziza requested a postponement to allow him time to consult with his movement in Tanzania.
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