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Burundi: Peace Talks
Burundi: Peace Talks
Date distributed (ymd): 980619
Document reposted by APIC
Region: Central Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+
This posting contains a brief background report and an update notice on
the peace talks
among parties to the conflict in Burundi, currently under way in Arusha,
Both are from the UN Integrated Regional Information Network for Central
Southern Africa (IRIN). More information from IRIN is available at the
IRIN web site
News from the Pan African News Agency and
other sources can be found at the AfricaNews web site (http://www.africanews.org/east/burundi).
The next posting contains the executive summary of a report from the International
entitled "Burundi under Siege."
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa (IRIN)
Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129
June 10, 1998
BURUNDI PEACE TALKS RESUME IN ARUSHA ON 15 JUNE
After several months of stalemate, the Burundi peace process resumes
in Arusha, northern Tanzania, on Monday 15 June against the backdrop of
a new relationship between the usually adversarial government and parliament.
The "external" peace process, mediated by former Tanzanian
president Julius Nyerere, is now running parallel to an "internal"
peace dialogue launched by the government of President Pierre Buyoya. Talks
between the government and parliament - hailed by both sides as a "new
partnership" - resulted in the signing of a transitional constitution
on 6 June 1998.
Independent analysts and diplomats believe the breakthrough over the
constitution offers Burundi the glimmer of a peaceful resolution to the
conflict, triggered by the October 1993 assassination of elected Hutu president
Jan van Eck of the South Africa-based Centre for Conflict Resolution
and an expert on Burundi says a "minimum amount of trust" now
exists and that the new partnership has a "fair to good" chance
of succeeding, with both sides keen to strengthen and consolidate the internal
peace process. Van Eck added he believed a "strategic decision to
change things" had been taken by the government and national assembly.
But the road to lasting peace is still strewn with obstacles. The institutional
changes have provoked unease among the main political parties, and hostility
from the principal rebel organisation Conseil national pour la defense
de la democratie (CNDD). Reports described the parliamentary debate on
4 June as stormy, but the changes were eventually approved. CNDD has accused
the national assembly of "betraying" the people's sovereignty
and described the transitional constitution as an "act of high treason".
It warned it would continue fighting "until constitutional and institutional
legality are restored".
The transitional constitution, promulgated just before parliament's
mandate expires on 29 June, has been described as a fusion of the 1992
constitution and the decree-law adopted by Buyoya after the July 1996 overthrow
of President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and the mainly-Hutu Front pour la
democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU). It provides for an expanded parliament
- increasing membership from 81 to 121 members - and for scrapping the
premiership in favour of two vice-presidents. The overall size of the government
will also be reduced.
Burundians are ambivalent about the success of the peace process. One
observer said a question mark hangs over the transitional constitution
as "Buyoya does not represent all Tutsis and [Leonce] Ngendakumana
[national assembly speaker] does not represent all Hutus", so the
new partnership is "limited". Both the main FRODEBU and UPRONA
(Union pour le progres national) parties are divided. UPRONA leader Charles
Mukasi has refused to go to Arusha, although the party will be represented
by pro-Buyoya officials. FRODEBU's exiled president, Jean Minani, meanwhile
has shunned the internal peace process and although reports say he wields
little influence these days, the mediator still recognises him as the party's
The Arusha process, aimed at bringing the opposing sides to the negotiating
table, got off to a bad start when the first meeting was boycotted by Buyoya
and the Tutsi-dominated UPRONA party in August last year on the grounds
there had been insufficient time to prepare and that Nyerere was biased
in favour of the Hutu parties.
Alongside the Arusha process, regional leaders also held a series of
meetings to discuss whether or not to lift the economic embargo they imposed
on Burundi after the military takeover. To date, six regional summits have
been held and although each session voted to maintain sanctions, the countries
(Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo
and Uganda) are becoming increasingly divided on the effectiveness of the
The last summit held in Kampala on 21 February 1998 stated "no
significant progress" had been achieved in negotiating a solution
to the conflict. Since then, the respected think-tank, International Crisis
Group, in a report released in April, noted the "negative aspects
of the economic blockade have come to outweigh any positive effects it
may have had". Regional analysts say that since the Kampala meeting,
Bujumbura has met many of the conditions laid down by regional leaders
for lifting the sanctions, including the release from house arrest of prominent
Nyerere says the political changes within Burundi will not affect the
upcoming Arusha meeting. He has already held consultations with the major
political players in Burundi, all of whom are expected to attend the talks.
They include Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, ex-president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
who leads the hardline Tutsi Parti pour le redressement national (PARENA),
National Assembly Speaker Leonce Ngendakumana and Buyoya himself. Internal
wrangling within CNDD means their representation is unclear, although Leonard
Nyangoma - recently suspended as CNDD leader - still maintains he is the
party president and says he will attend the Arusha meeting.
Analysts say CNDD is still a major player in any peace settlement and
stress that CNDD and other groups outside the country will at least be
represented at Arusha. Van Eck noted that if the sides demonstrate a commitment
to peace in Arusha, there is a chance the region will lift the sanctions.
Nairobi, 10 June 1998
[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN,
a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the
views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123
Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or
re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations
or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports
are archived on the WWW at: http://www.reliefweb.int
or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to email@example.com.
Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]
IRIN Update No. 440 for Central and Eastern Africa
(Thursday 18 June 1998)
BURUNDI: CNDD-FDD says it will back deal guaranteeing democracy "for
The main CNDD rebel group, and its armed wing - Forces pour la defense
de la democratie (FDD) - are ready to accept any peace solution found at
the current all-party talks in Arusha as long as the deal guarantees CNDD-FDD
objectives for "security and democracy for all", the organisation's
spokesperson Jerome Ndiho said in a press release received by IRIN today
(Thursday). He declared that CNDD-FDD was not invited to the Arusha peace
talks and warned against "those who continue to conclude agreements
in the name of CNDD".
Leonard Nyangoma has attended the Arusha talks as CNDD (Conseil national
pour la defense de la democratie) president despite the announcement by
the movement in May that he had been suspended and replaced by Jean-Bosco
Ndayikengurukiye, formerly CNDD's chief-of-staff. Informed sources told
IRIN the CNDD split could be crucial to the success of attempts by mediator
Julius Nyerere to persuade all factions to agree a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the leader-in-exile of FRODEBU (Front pour la democratie
au Burundi) Jean Minani has called for "unconditional" talks
to end armed struggle, Burundi radio reported yesterday (Wednesday). Minani,
who was at first opposed to a recent "partnership" deal between
his party and the Burundian government, said that as negotiations were
in progress and as "everybody was committed to finding a solution"
the armed struggle was no longer justified.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa
Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington
Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate
in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa,
by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and
analysis usable by a wide range of groups individuals.