Rwanda: December 4, 2002

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: A spokesman for the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD, Burundi's main rebel movement) that the group was ready to sign a deal with the government, as regional leaders met on 1 December to seek an end to the country's devastating civil war. Burundian negotiators had agreed on 22 November to set up a technical working group to discuss security details and a ceasefire implementation. The rebels were demanding the withdrawal of a 700-man South African protection force from Burundi, but the Burundi government insisted they remain. The rebels also called for government forces to be returned to their barracks and disarmed.

Burundi's other main rebel group, the Palipehutu-FNL, has declined to meet the government. Nearly 400,000 people remain displaced by the fighting. Donor countries have pledged $905 million to support Burundi's peace process. 

Human Rights Watch warned that recent army massacres of civilians and the FDD bombardment of the capital are raising the risk of further widespread slaughter of civilians. The recent movement of thousands of well-armed FDD fighters into northwestern Burundi have heightened fears of an all-out rebel attack on the capital, Bujumbura. Another, smaller rebel group (the National Liberation Forces) also occupies the hills around Bujumbura. Most of the army's highly placed officers are Tutsi and most of the victims of army atrocities are Hutu. By the same token, the rebel forces are largely Hutu and a large percentage of Bujumbura residents are Tutsi. - Adam Geibel

The Human Rights Watch report is available online at http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/burundi/burundi1128.pdf.

 

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