Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Bujumbura (Fides Service ) – Civil war in Burundi exploded in 1993. The conflict involves the mainly Tutsi army and the mainly Hutu guerrilla a tribe which is the majority in the country. The root of the conflict is more participation in state institutions requested by the Hutu.
To put an end to the conflict which has already caused the death of more than 300,000 people, in 2000 in Arusha Tanzania, talks were held under the auspices of the international community with the mediation of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The talks led to the signing in August 2000, of the Arusha agreement, which foresaw the constitution of a nation unity government and a Tutsi and Hutu president alternating every 18 months, and at the end of this 36 multi-party elections.
The peace talks were attended by all ten of Burundi’s Tutsi parties united as the G10, and Hutu parties(G7). The most important of the G10 Tutsi parties, is UPRONA (Union for National progress) formerly the only party in the country. The most important Hutu party is FRODEBU. Distinct from these are guerrilla groups CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defence of Democracy - Forces for Defence of Democracy) FNL (National Liberation Forces), which have not signed the Arusha Agreement Only the Solo (FDD) signed the Agreement in April this year for a cease-fire which was not respected. The FDD affirms that it fights only to defend itself from the attacks by the army, while the government forces say the guerrilla group does not respect the cease fire agreement. The Guerrilla group has split into different factions one of them Rwasa-FNL is responsible for the present attacks on the capital Bujumbura. The situation is serious with military operations affecting 16 of Burundi’s 17 provinces.
At the political level the hand over from former Tutsi President Pierre Buyoya to Hutu President Domitien Ndayizeye took place as scheduled on 1 May this year. Elections should be held in 2004.
To support the peace process the African Union has deployed a force of 3.500 men. Since November 2001, a 700 strong African peace keeping force has been in Burundi to protect returning exiled political leaders. In late April a mission of 150 South African soldiers arrived in Burundi to monitor the cease fire. But it does not have a mandate to intervene to stop the fighting. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 16/7/2003 lines 36 words 472)