Burundi politician visits Mandela

Bujumbura- Burundi (PANA) -- Alphonse Rugambarara, official spokesman of a group of eight Burundi political parties from the Tutsi ethnic minority community, left Bujumbura Thursday for South Africa, for talks with Nelson Mandela, the international mediator on the Burundi crisis.
Rugumbarara told newsmen before his departure that the talks with the former South African President would focus on outstanding issues.
These include the appointment of a new transitional leadership and ending the country's civil war.
The Burundi peace agreement signed in August 2000 in Arusha, Tanzania, provides that the first transition of 18 months will be led by a Tutsi candidate.
However, the Tutsis are reported to be embroiled in political and regional rivalry, with several representatives vying for the presidency, including incumbent President, Pierre Buyoya.
While Buyoya is from the south, another candidate Col.
Epitace Bayaganakandi is from central Burundi, and there is also former President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, who is opposed to the Bujumbura government that toppled him in 1986.
"We will reaffirm to the mediator Mandela our commitment to the candidacy of Col.
Bayaganakandi, who has the broadest political support (eight out of 10) of the parties called to nominate a Tutsi candidate for President for the first transition period," Rugambarara said.
His visit to South Africa follows a series of separate consultations, which Mandela has had in Pretoria since the end of July with parties to the Burundi crisis.
Another meeting is said planned for South Africa later this month by the 19 parties that signed the Burundi peace agreement with Mandela, to discuss the transitional leadership.
Mandela is also expected to hold "informal talks" with sub-regional leaders on the Burundi conflict, on the fringe of next week's OAU Summit in Lusaka, Zambia.
A regional Summit on Burundi has also been fixed for 23 July in Arusha, expected to bring together Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Buyoya, among others.

06 july 2001 17:47:00

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