Burundi

Mandela tight-lipped on Burundi talks

Source
Posted
Originally published
STEVEN MANN, Cape Town - Monday 4.30pm
NELSON Mandela and Burundian strongman Pierre Buyoya came out of talks lasting several hours on Monday, saying headway had been made in bringing Burundi's seven-year civil war to an end, but they remained tight-lipped on exactly what had been discussed.

"We have made a great deal of progress. Unfortunately we are unable to give details," Mandela said, explaining that the 18 political parties and groups negotiating a peace deal had to be consulted first.

The former South African president was appointed chief mediator in the conflict -- which has claimed more than 200 000 lives -- after the death of former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere.

Buyoya, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1996, said his government stood by its promise to disband "resettlement camps," which house an estimated 350 000 people, mostly ethnic Hutu, in appalling conditions.

The camps were established by the Tutsi-led army, which wants the land to be cleared of civilians so it can fight Hutu rebels more easily.

The first of the camps was due to be disassembled on Monday, but Buyoya declined to elaborate when the remaining camps would be scrapped.

Mandela said he had stressed the need for armed groups which have not been taking part in the peace talks to be brought on board.

"They will continue to slaughter innocent civilians if they are not involved," he said.