INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA
NEWS JUNE 7th 2000
BURUNDI PEACE TALKS
MANDELA ANNOUNCES BREAKTHROUGH IN BURUNDI PEACE TALKS
Arusha, June 7th, 2000 (FH) - Burundi peace mediator Nelson Mandela said on
Wednesday he had reached two key agreements with Burundian president Pierre
Buyoya which would smooth the path to a peace agreement in Arusha.
According to news reports from Johannesburg, Mandela and Buyoya said they had
agreed to a restructuring of the mainly Tutsi army, so that it would include 50
percent Hutus and 50 percent Tutsis. They also agreed that regroupment camps
would be closed by July 31st. The government has forced thousands of mainly Hutu
civilians into such camps, saying it was for security reasons, but human rights
organizations say the conditions in the camps are appalling. Mandela has called
them "nothing more than concentration camps".
"We agreed with President Buyoya on the integration issue -- that there would
be 50 percent Tutsi and 50 percent Hutu in the army,'' Reuters news agency
quoted Mandela as saying. "We also agreed that all Hutus in regroupment camps
will be released by July 31st.''
Mandela said the agreements cleared the way for the first face-to-face talks
between Buyoya and Hutu rebel leaders at all-party peace talks in Arusha
scheduled for next month. His statements came after a meeting in South Africa
The former South African president has said he will visit Burundi from June 12th
to 14th to meet armed groups and members of civil society. He is also expected
to visit regroupment camps and political prisoners. "As a man who spent 27 years
in jail, I can't tolerate to go to a country where so many innocent people are
in jail without trial," the former South African president said recently.
Closure of the regroupment camps and release of political prisoners are the
conditions set by dissident Hutu rebel groups for joining the Arusha peace
talks. These talks in Tanzania have been in progress for two years, with
negotiators dragging their feet and fighting continuing on the ground.
Mandela took over as Facilitator in February, replacing the late former
Tanzanian presidentJulius Nyerere. He has redoubled his efforts to speed
the process, and the Facilitiation team says it now hopes to present a draft
peace agreement in July.