Mkapa appeals to Burundi rebels to join peace process

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania Wednesday called on Burundi's armed rebels to lay down their arms and join the peace process which he said has reached an advanced stage.
Speaking to journalists at the end of President Pierre Buyoya's visit in Tanzania, Mkapa said now that new leaders to oversee a transition government in Burundi had been agreed upon and the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement has been signed, there was no justification for continuing with the war.
"The rebels should lay down arms and join the peace process.
The fighting has not benefited the country," Mkapa said.
Earlier, speaking to journalists before his departure, Buyoya refuted allegations that had accused Tanzania of offering firearms and military training to armed rebels of Hutu origin currently staying in refugee camps in regions of Kigoma and Kagera.
He said the allegations were coined by the press and challenged journalists not sow seeds of discord between the two countries by making unfounded allegations against him.
Major Buyoya insisted that from time to time, his government and Tanzanian authorities have been holding discussions regarding security between the two neighbouring countries.
"At this moment, Burundi is in need of more assistance from Tanzania than it was previously the case," he noted, adding that during his visit, he held talks with Mkapa on top priority issues ranging from the repatriation of over 350,000 Burundi refugees from Tanzania, misunderstandings and bilateral relations as well as progress of the peace process.
Buyoya also said that he met Dr.
Jean Minani of FRODEBU and Joseph Karumba of FROLINA in Dar es Salaam and they discussed how things would be done after the installation of a new government in Bujumbura in November.
Buyoya's visit comes 40 days before the Implementation Monitoring Committee for the peace pact shifts its temporary headquarters from Arusha to Bujumbura.
Talks regarding cease-fire and cessation of hostilities between the Burundi government and two armed rebel groups have now been stalled, pending some clarifications on outstanding issues by the international facilitator in Burundi conflict, retired South African president Nelson Mandela.
Latest negotiations on cessation of hostilities, which are usually chaired by the South African Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, could not proceed in South Africa because of Mandela's absence as he was undergoing medical treatment.
Two main rebel groups, which have been launching military attacks against the government, are CNDD-FDD of Col.
Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and PALIPEHUTU-FLN of Kabura Kosani.
The two groups have rejected the signed peace accord, maintaining they were excluded right from the beginning of the peace process.

05 september 2001 21:27:00

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