Global Policy Forum

Tanzania Says No 'Fresh Start'


By Manoah Esipisu

July 11, 2006

East African leaders are pressing Burundi's last major rebel group to drop demands for government reforms and sign a peace deal for the central African state, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said on Tuesday. Regional leaders have worked for several years to get Burundi's government and many warring groups to reach a long-term peace agreement, and rebel FNL demands for a "fresh start" cannot work, Kikwete told Reuters in an interview.

"To say that we should have a fresh start and assume that nothing has happened in Burundi over the past several years is not right, that is the message," Kikwete told Reuters on the sidelines of a technology conference in Cape Town.

"Let's see how FNL fit into the new formation in Burundi, that is our challenge. We've got the tribal balance worked out in the deal for the government and the army, it is a delicate call and we aren't going to renegotiate these things," he said.

Kikwete said it would take time to transform the mind-set of Burundians in government, the army, the judiciary and other sectors after many years of civil war, but the FNL should still agree a ceasefire and return to help rebuild the country.

A July 1 deadline set by the South African chief mediator, Charles Nqakula, for the Hutu rebel Forces for National Liberation (FNL) and the government to agree on a ceasefire, passed without a deal after he failed to get the rebels back to the table. The talks are due to resume later this week.

Nqakula said last week that the FNL had been persuaded to drop an earlier demand for the dissolution of the Burundi army. But the group still insists on significant changes to the make-up of the army and the government.

The talks, which started in May in Tanzania, stalled when the FNL accused the government and mediators of pushing it into a deal. The two sides signed an agreement on June 18 to stop fighting, and agreed to sign a pact within two weeks.

A peace deal is seen as one of the final steps to stability in the tiny central African nation of 7 million after more than a decade of ethnic strife between its Hutu majority and the economically and politically dominant Tutsi in which at least 300,000 people were killed and the economy was wrecked.

The FNL wants major reform in the security forces before it signs any agreement and has refused to be absorbed into the police and military as laid out in a U.N.-backed peace plan. Bujumbura and regional governments say the demands for reforms and for disbanding the army are unrealistic.




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