Mandela confirms "breakthrough" in Burundi stalemate

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Retired South African President Nelson Mandela has been hailed for his efforts in resolving the Burundi conflict after rival political groups agreed to split the presidency during a three-year transition period.
Mandela who is the chief peace mediator in the eight-year long crisis, has been instrumental in the ongoing peace process in the small African state.
On Sunday, he confirmed that a "breakthrough" has been made, but said he would not elaborate until he had held talks with the 19 Burundian political parties on Tuesday.
Mandela who is attending the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Lusaka, held discussions with Presidents Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Kenya's Daniel arap Moi, Libya's Moammar Kadhafi and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete.
Under the agreement, the three-year transition period would be divided into two equal periods of 18 months.
A Tutsi president will fill the first period with a Hutu as vice president.
The roles would be reversed during the next 18 months Implementation of a peace accord signed last August by the government and the political opposition stumbled for lack of consensus over who becomes the first transitional leaders among the Tutsi candidates, and he failure to reach a cease-fire with the Hutu rebel groups.
Burundi's civil war broke out in 1993 when Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country's first democratically- elected Hutu President, Melchior Ndadaye.
The conflict has killed some 200,000 people mainly civilians.
Mandela was appointed as mediator in the peace process by six African Heads of State who expressed confidence that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate would help secure a breakthrough in the conflict.
Mandela replaced Julius Nyerere, the former Tanzanian president who died in 1999 after trying unsuccessfully for several years to broker peace in the war-ravaged central African nation.

09 july 2001 14:55:00




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