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  Burundi Peace Process: New Developments

The International Crisis Group (ICG) releases today the English translation of its latest report on Burundi – first published in French on 18 April – entitled The Mandela Effect: Prospects for Peace in Burundi.

The report offers a candid assessment of the successes and failures of the Arusha-based peace talks for Burundi since their inception in June 1998 and examines the impact Nelson Mandela has had on negotiations since his appointment as mediator in December 1999. The original press release outlining the substance of the report is attached.

Since the report was first published in mid-April, three major events have occurred which are not reflected in the present text. First, Nelson Mandela paid a brief visit to Burundi on 28 April 2000, essentially to meet President Buyoya and members of the Burundian army. The issue of the integration of the rebels into the military was discussed, and the military leadership expressed its concern. Mandela was criticised by the government for the brevity of his visit, and promised – in the course of a short speech to the National Assembly – to return to Burundi for a longer period.

Secondly, Mandela’s visit was preceded by a week of attacks by the rebellion on major roads around Bujumbura. The military responded by launching a quick and massive operation. For the last week, violent clashed have been taking place in the Makamba region along the Tanzanian border. Most observers suspect that the rebels want to take a strong position before they officially enter the peace process in Arusha.

Finally, Mandela will now meet rebel groups in South Africa on 22 May 2000 before the next round of talks is due to start in Arusha. Leaders of all rebel groups have agreed to the meeting, including the CNDD-FDD and FNL, whom Mandela is trying to bring into the Arusha negotiations. He will also meet with the government delegation and then with both parties together.


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