news analysis advocacy
tips on searching

Search AfricaFocus and 9 Partner Sites



Visit the AfricaFocus
Country Pages

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central Afr. Rep.
Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo (Kinshasa)
Côte d'Ivoire
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Western Sahara

Get AfricaFocus Bulletin by e-mail!

Print this page

Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Burundi: Peace Steps

Burundi: Peace Steps
Date distributed (ymd): 010726
Document reposted by APIC

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+


This posting contains the most recent updates from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) on the evolving peace process in Burundi. After much delay and with much pressure from mediator Nelson Mandela, key internal parties meeting at a summit in Arusha, Tanzania with regional powers have agreed on a transition process to implement last year's Arusha Accord. This week a distinct set of talks is continuing in Pretoria bringing together representatives of armed rebel groups with Burundi government representatives. Nelson Mandela, not participating in the talks due to the beginning of his treatment for prostate cancer, is represented by South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

According to the plan, the transition government is to be installed on November 1. The accord is certain to be fragile, particularly if no ceasefire is negotiated with the armed rebel groups. Implementation will also require strong international support. Peacekeepers have been promised from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, with Belgium making a commitment to logistical support.

For an earlier perspective on the Arusha peace process and the necessity of supplementary talks, see the International Crisis Group's statement of May 2001, at:

Additional news and background articles from IRIN can be found at:

For current news see

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BURUNDI: Council welcomes agreement on transitional leadership

NAIROBI, 26 July (IRIN) - Members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday welcomed the announcement of an agreement on the transitional leadership in Burundi, which calls for the current president and a Hutu leader to each serve 18 months as the head of a three-year transitional government.

"Members of the Council hoped that all parties in Burundi will support this government and set the transitional government as scheduled," the Council President, Ambassador Wang Yingfan of China, said in a press statement.

The statement followed a closed-door session during which the Council was briefed on the situation in Burundi by UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast. The statement strongly urged the armed groups to cease hostilities immediately and join the peace process already underway and asked the international community to continue to provide assistance to the transitional government once it was set up. Council members also expressed their support for the efforts by the facilitator of the Burundi peace talks, Nelson Mandela, and the leaders of the Great Lakes region.

BURUNDI: Mediators to meet rebels on Thursday

NAIROBI, 25 July (IRIN) - Burundi peace mediator Nelson Mandela and South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma are due to meet Burundian rebel groups in Pretoria on Thursday, the South African news agency SAPA reported. It said they would discuss decisions taken at Monday's regional summit meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, with the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) and the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL). Burundi President Pierre Buyoya - who will lead the first half of the three-year transition period - and Gabonese leader Omar Bongo will also attend the meeting, according to Zuma's spokeswoman Lakela Kaunda.

[Later news indicated that Nelson Mandela was unable to attend.]

BURUNDI: IRIN Update on coup attempt/transition accord
24 July 2001

[IRIN-CEA: Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: ]

[This item is delivered in the "africa-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]


Region threatens sanctions if Buyoya violates conditions Foreign peacekeepers to supervise ceasefire
Reactions to transition agreement
Transition accord a "facade"
Bujumbura calm after coup, Buyoya returns
Defence minister blames politicians

Region threatens sanctions if Buyoya violates conditions

Regional leaders on Monday endorsed President Pierre Buyoya's appointment as the first leader of Burundi's transitional period but threatened sanctions if he violated a set of agreed conditions, the Hirondelle news agency reported. "In the event that the president of the transitional government fails to fulfil the conditionalities agreed to, the regional leaders will take all necessary measures, including sanctions to ensure compliance," a communique issued by the regional summit in Arusha, Tanzania, said. "The region will also approach the United Nations Security Council and the international community at large to support the above measures."

Buyoya, a Tutsi, will lead the first half of the three-year transition, which begins on 1 November, with Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu who is secretary-general of the main opposition party FRODEBU, as his vice-president. The transition government is to include other signatories to the Arusha peace accord, signed last August.

The communique stated that Buyoya agreed to undertake commitments to ensure full implementation of the Arusha peace accord, including army reform, inviting international peacekeepers, offering protection to returning exiles and relinquishing power at the end of the 18 month period.

Foreign peacekeepers to supervise ceasefire

The summit communique also noted that Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa had agreed to contribute troops to a peacekeeping force for Burundi, and that Belgium had offered logistical support. It said their mandate would be to ensure respect for the ceasefire, supervise the integration of the army, provide technical support for demobilisation and training, ensure protection for institutions and public figures, and assist in the "establishment and training of an ethnically-balanced special unit for the protection of the institutions".

According to the communique, the peacekeepers would be deployed "while efforts are underway to get the United Nations Security Council to mandate the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force" as envisaged in the Arusha peace accord. However, no figure was mentioned for the number of peacekeepers required.

Reactions to transition agreement

Domitien Ndayizeye, who will become Burundi's new vice-president, on Monday voiced satisfaction with the peace process. In an interview with Burundi radio, he denied suggestions that the transitional government would fail considering there was no ceasefire agreement yet. "You are aware of the fact that the forthcoming institutions will be shared by all the signatories," he said. "That means we will be strong enough to hold discussions with the rebels who did not sign the agreement." He stressed the new government was determined to hold talks with the rebel groups. "We hope they will understand we will not allow the country to go backwards," he added.

In other reactions to the Arusha summit, FRODEBU's exiled leader Jean Minani said his movement could not oppose an international decision. "We are going to continue negotiating until we bring peace back," he told the Hirondelle news agency. But the rebel CNDD faction, led by Leonard Nyangoma, said the sides in Arusha had "just re-confirmed the partnership between [the ruling party] UPRONA, FRODEBU and the army". Nyangoma described the move as a "fatal blow" to the peace agreement.

The opposition Tutsi parties also condemned the endorsement of Buyoya as president. Their spokesman, Alphonse Rugambarara of the INKINZO party, described Buyoya as a "very dangerous president", and said they would continue to work within the framework of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) for full implementation of the peace accord, particularly political freedom. "For 18 months, not being in the government is not very important," Rugambarara told Hirondelle. "Eighteen months goes very fast. But at least we will be in an institution [the IMC] which will allow us to continue demanding our rights and freedoms."

A UN spokesman in New York said the Burundi peace process seemed to have "advanced another step" with the endorsement of Buyoya as president and Ndayizeye as his deputy.

Transition accord a "facade"

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), many analysts believe however that the "sudden willingness to compromise" is just a facade. "This is a hard war to bring to an end," the EIU said. "It does not have a front line or two well-defined opposing groups. It is full of paradoxes and crossovers." It said neither side could win. "The whole region seems set for a war of attrition between the beleaguered but well-armed Tutsis in power and the more numerous and resentful Hutus," the EIU stated.

"The new accord, negotiated by [peace mediator] Mr Mandela, has the same shortcomings as all the other failed agreements. First, only unarmed parties have signed. The accord excludes the country's two armed rebel Hutu groups: the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy," the EIU added. "President Buyoya is not known for compromise either. This agreement leaves him in power for the moment and gives him a smooth, face-saving exit."

The EIU also said the agreement failed to take account of Burundi's neighbours - Rwanda, Tanzania and the DRC. "Small and landlocked, Burundi depends heavily on them, but its civil war has extended into their territory and politics," it noted.

Bujumbura calm after coup, Buyoya returns

The Burundi capital Bujumbura was reported calm on Tuesday following a failed coup attempt on Sunday night. President Pierre Buyoya, who returned to the country on Monday after the Arusha summit, commented that coup attempts "never lead anywhere". "In all countries all over the world whenever there are imminent changes, as it is now here, some people want to lag behind and they don't understand," he said, according to Burundi radio. On the transition, Buyoya reiterated that it would begin on 1 November although he would like to see it established "as soon as possible". The outstanding issue now, he said, was that of a ceasefire. The South African deputy president would be continuing attempts to talk to the armed rebel groups and mediate between them and the government.

Defence minister blames politicians

Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye on Monday announced that the situation was normal and the coup had failed. Speaking over Burundi radio, he said loyalist soldiers were in control of the situation. According to the radio, the rebel soldiers - who fled north from Bujumbura - had surrendered to the authorities in the northern province of Ngozi and five officers taken hostage by the renegades had been released. The minister said 60 soldiers - or two platoons - were involved in the coup attempt. "They left their duties which were to provide security in Bujumbura town," he said. They then tried to disrupt the flow of traffic in the city and attempted to free inmates from Bujumbura's Mpimba prison, as well as "provoking" their superiors. Ndayirukiye confirmed that the commander of Bujumbura district was wounded, although his life was not in danger.

"I believe that what happened resembles what happened on 18 April [date of this year's previous coup attempt]," the defence minister stated. "At that time, there was a peace process under way in Arusha, just like now. Like last time, it seems some soldiers are involved in the event unwillingly while others seem to be working for others, not for themselves."

He named one of the coup leaders as Lieutenant Kamenyero, saying that he already been arrested. According to Ndayirukiye, there are "many problems" in the army. "Hutus and Tutsis are only after posts and competition without caring about security," he said. "That is why it is difficult to satisfy all of them and that is why the current war which started a long time ago has reached a very difficult and crucial stage." He claimed that certain politicians were trying to exploit this situation. "The root cause is not the army but the politicians," he stated.

Nairobi, 24 July 2001

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

URL for this file: