Rwanda: February 27, 2004


The situation in Burundi continues to be a case of "two steps forward, one step back". The chairman of the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People (Palipehutu), Etienne Karatasi, returned to Burundi after 39 years of exile in Denmark. A list of over 2,000 of his rebels had been submitted to the ceasefire commission. About 150 had already assembled in the northwestern province of Cibitoke and that others were due to join them shortly. Karatasi is the legal agent for the FNL party.

Meanwhile, fresh fighting between splinter groups the FNL rebel movement and the regular army has displaced thousands of people in Bujumbura Rural Province, outside of the capital. Up to 20,000 people could be effected, although there is no way to determine the exact number that are on the road. 

The day before, a UN evaluation team said that it favored converting AMIB into a UN operation. The team was invited by the government and South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma (the Burundi peace process facilitator). If the UN Security Council gave the go-ahead, there would "simply be the change of helmets" for the 2,870 AMIB troops from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa.

South Africa had been footing most of the AMIB bill and was screaming under the financial strain. At the end of January, Ireland contributed over $500,000 to AMIB. - Adam Geibel


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