Burundi Peace Process: Tough Challenges Ahead
Burundi has been involved in a civil war since the assassination of the first-ever democratically elected President and FRODEBU leader Melchior Ndadaye, in October 1993. For the last 26 months, the government of Major Pierre Buyoya, which took power in a coup four years ago, has been engaged in negotiations with FRODEBU together with the other political parties. Nelson Mandela took over this process in December 1999 following the death of the first Mediator, the late Julius Nyerere.
Mandela breathed life into the Arusha process and rallied the international community to devote attention to the Burundi conflict. His first priority was to conclude the Arusha process as quickly as possible. In order to do this, he speeded up negotiations in the five areas of focus (Committee I on the nature of the conflict; II on democracy and good governance; III on peace and security; IV on reconstruction and development; and V on guarantees to support implementation of the accord).
A draft agreement was presented to the nineteen parties on 16 July 2000. By his assertive approach, Mandela has provoked a healthy debate on questions related to an amnesty for those guilty of political crimes, the integration of rebel forces into the army, power sharing and the transitional period. He has also pressured the government to dismantle regroupment camps in Bujumbura Rural, to allow political parties the right of assembly and to permit freedom of the press.