Mbeki weighs request to send troops to Burundi

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- President Thabo Mbeki is still considering a request for South African troops to be sent to Burundi to protect exiled Burundian leaders returning home.
Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo on Tuesday said that Mbeki has "taken note" of the request by Burundi mediator Nelson Mandela to ensure that South African troops will assist with the installation of a transitional government in Burundi by 1 November.
Mandela said the transitional government is to comprise leaders of all 19 political parties which were party to a recent agreement in Arusha, Tanzania.
According to the agreement announced last July, the presidency of Burundi will be split during a three-year transition period that would be divided into two equal phases of 18 months each.
Burundi president Pierre Buyoya will head the first 18 months of the transitional government, while Hutu leader Domitien Ndayizeye, would serve as deputy president.
The transitional government would release all political prisoners and invite an international peacekeeping force to assist with security arrangements during the transition.
Mandela said donor countries had pledged to give 400 million US dollars to support the peace process as soon as a transitional government was installed and a cease-fire declared.
Despite this progress, the two main rebel groups, Forces for Defence of Democracy and the National Liberation Front are still refusing to sign a cease-fire agreement or to be part of the transitional government.
However, South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Gabonese President Omar Bongo have agreed to continue negotiation with the two parties.
Burundi's civil war, which broke out in 1993 after Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country's first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, has claimed some 200,000 mainly civilian lives.

16 october 2001 13:35:00




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