"The openness of Mandela was a positive headway toward restoring peace in the country," Sylvester Ntibantunganya, Burundi's former president and leader of the FRODEBU group, said.
"Mandela has demonstrated his seriousness and genuineness in solving the Burundi conflict. This is a big step forward in the Arusha talks that conflicting parties must support," he told PANA.
He said since Mandela's take-over as facilitator of the peace talks two months ago, several parties and the Burundi government had started consultations among themselves in a new spirit aimed at ending the conflict.
"At least about eight to 10 groups and the government are doing consultations back home over the issue," Ntibantunganya said, citing FRODEBU, UPRONA, PARENA and CNDD among groups already involved in dialogue.
Ntibantunganya, who was toppled in a bloodless coup by Maj. Pierre Buyoya in 1996, called on the authorities in Bujumbura to involve all the parties in the transition process.
Peace will not be attained if armed groups are not brought to the talks, he warned.
"The Arusha talks have begun to enlighten Burundians on the need to end the war. This can only be attained if all groups involved in the talks are also involved in the management of the transition," he added.
CNDD's foreign relations officer, Leonce Ndarubagya, also observed that Tutsi dominance in the government and the army was the source of fighting, and praised Mandela for "pinpointing the exclusion."
"We cannot stop fighting if there is no power-sharing in Burundi by all Burundians. We support Mandela on this and we are ready for ceasefire if an agreement to this effect is reached," he told PANA.
However, he blamed the Buyoya regime for being hesitant to meet the warring groups.
"Apart from the Arusha talks where we meet people from government there are no other platforms where the problem is discussed. How then can resolutions reached at the talks be implemented?" Ndarubagya wondered.
The position was supported by Sudanese ambassador to Tanzania, Kuol Alor, an observer at the talks, who appealed to the international community to help bring other armed groups to the talks.
"The 18 participating parties in the talks may reach an agreement as it appears but there is always a danger of those not involved breeding other problems later," he warned.
Forces for the Defence of Democracy and the National Liberation Forces are the main armed groups that have not committed themselves to the now 18-month-old stalled peace talks.
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