AFRICA/BURUNDI - Heavy fighting in a district of the capital between two rival factions of the National Liberation Forces, thousands of homes abandoned

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Bujumbura (Agenzia Fides) - Heavy fighting broke out this morning in the Buterere district, in north Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The fighting was between two rival factions of the National Liberation Forces, FNL, the last rebel group at present negotiating a peace pact with the government after reaching a cease fire agreement with the government in 2006 (see Fides 17 June 2006). Some of the rebels who refuse to accept the authority of the FNL leader, Agathon Rwasa, installed themselves in Buterere about two weeks ago. Around 5am this morning the factions started violent fighting with mortar bombs and rocket launchers. So far the precise number of the persons killed is unknown, but at least 5,000 people reportedly fled their homes in panic.
Burundi is struggling to close the door on ten years of civil. Following elections in 2005 the country is ruled by a government expression of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy, formerly the country's main rebel group, which signed a peace pact in 2003, and decided to come to power accepting the rules of democracy. For a long time the FNL refused to negotiate with the government which, the rebels said, was simply a product of international pressure and therefore not lawful. Only in 2006 the rebels agreed to start talks which since stalled. At the end of August the Bishops of Burundi urged the sides to overcome the negotiation impasse. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2007 righe 18, parole 279)