Burundi

Obasanjo Tells Burundi Military to Leave Power

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ARUSHA, Tanzania (PANA) - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Monday asked the military government in Bujumbura to devolve power to the civilians immediately, at the start of a special summit on the Burundi peace process in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha being attended by six heads of state.
Obasanjo drew lessons from his country, where a prolonged military rule had left the country devastated and warned that similar consequences could happen in Burundi.

"To put it bluntly, the longer the military are in power so long will the society lose its vital habit of thinking creatively and democratically and solving its problems accordingly," he told the summit.

Drawing examples from Nigeria which had been under military rule for 29 out of its 40 years of independence, the Nigerian leader said popular rule must be allowed to prevail at all times.

"I personally estimate that the military period preceding our (Nigerian) administration set the country back (many) years," he added. "Our brothers and sisters of Burundi must note that peace is not a means, peace is an end in itself. A life without peace is not worth contemplating."

Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania called on all armed groups to stop fighting and hold democratic elections.

Other leaders attending the summit are Presidents Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and Omar Bongo of Gabon.

The previous session of the Burundi peace talks which started in mid 1998 had been adjourned early March with a resolution for the facilitation team to prepare a compromised proposals document summing up matters raised during 19 months of negotiation.

The talks, chaired by former South African President Nelson Mandela, brought together 19 warring parties in a bid to stem five years of fighting that has left over 200,000 dead and a million others displaced.

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