Mbeki reiterates commitment to Burundi peace process

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Tom Osanjo, PANA Correspondent
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - South Africa is willing to commit more troops to oversee the cease-fire in Burundi, President Thabo Mbeki said here Tuesday.

But he quickly said the process could be slowed down due to unavailability of logistical details, which are to be supplied by the cease-fire commission.

Mbeki told a news conference that such information would help to estimate how many troops he could commit to the Central African nation.

Mbeki, who is current chair of African Union (AU), said the meeting of the AU's central organ had requested South Africa to lead the peacekeeping mission in Burundi -- which will also include Ethiopian and Mozambican troops -- and ensure speedy deployment.

In a communiqué issued here Monday, the union's central organ for the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolutions welcomed the signing of cease-fire agreements last October and December between the Transitional Government of Burundi and the CNDD-FDD of Jean Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, the PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Alain Mubarabona and the CNDD-FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza.

But the organ called on PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Agathon Rwasa to engage in cease-fire negotiations with the transitional government without further delay.

It urged AU member states and the international community to provide the required financial and logistical support for the deployment of the African peacekeeping mission, which was provided for in a December 2002 agreement.

The communiqué appealed to AU observers for support to maintain and consolidate the truce between the parties pending the deployment of peacekeepers.

Mbeki, while acknowledging the leading role South Africa is to play in the arrangement, called on the AU to provide the funds to make the operation successful.

"This is an AU operation and I believe they will look for the funds necessary to make it a success," he observed.

Mbeki reminded the AU that before the rebels lay down their arms, they would have to be assured of their safety, adding, "such an assurance could only come about after the logistical details are made available."

"Before we commit extra troops we have to know how many rebels are ready to quit fighting and how many assembly points will be needed," he added.

Pan African News Agency
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