Burundi rebels say ceasefire talks without them "meaningless"

BUJUMBURA - The spokesman for Burundi’s Palipehutu-FNL rebel group has said talks aimed at implementing a ceasefire deal signed with the government in September last year would be meaningless without their participation.
A graphic illustration of Burundi's flag
A graphic illustration of Burundi's flag

BUJUMBURA - The spokesman for Burundi’s Palipehutu-FNL rebel group has said talks aimed at implementing a ceasefire deal signed with the government in September last year would be meaningless without their participation.

“The meeting is meaningless and its outcome will be meaningless”, Pasteur Habimana told The New Times on the weekend by the telephone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
“It’s like celebrating a wedding without a bride”, he said.

The FNL delegation to the ceasefire talks disappeared spectacularly in the bush last July on the grounds that their security could not be guaranteed. The move raised fears that fighting would resume in the tiny central African nation of 7 million.

The rebels have ignored calls from the mediation to return to the negotiating table, accusing instead chief mediator, South Africa’s Security minister Charles Nqakula of bias, an accusation he denies.

“They were invited to take part in this meeting; it’s a matter of deep regret that they didn’t take up this invitation”, Nqakula said as he opened the meeting.

“But again I ask them to come back to the negotiating table unconditionally”.

Following the deadlock, hundreds of FNL dissident combatants “committed to peace” have reportedly been coming out the bush to seek protection from government forces.

Clashes between FNL rival factions around the capital and in the countryside have led to dozens being killed.

According to Nqakula, those dissident rebels need food and shelter and they could be a threat to public security as they are armed.

“There is acceptance all around that indeed we must engage with this situation to stop the possibility of it developing into a humanitarian crisis,” he said, adding that the mediation would establish assembly points for combatants who have come forward to ask for assistance.

Other pending issues to be tackled have to do with immunity of rebel leaders expected to come home from exile and the liberation of political and war prisoners.

Another contentious point is the political future of the Palipehutu-FNL men.
Burundi is trying to emerge from 14 years of civil war which has killed over 250,000 persons, most of them civilians.

 Meanwhile, Reuters reported yesterday that nine fighters have been killed in new clashes between two factions of FNL.

Quoting Burundi’s army spokesman, Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza, the agency reported the Monday battle took place in the Kabezi district, about 15 km (nine miles) south of the capital Bujumbura, after combatants loyal to the leader of the ethnic Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) attacked a camp on Sunday.

The camp was sheltering nearly 400 fighters from an FNL faction that opposes FNL leader Agathon Rwasa, said the army spokesman, Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza.

The fighting was the second major clash between Rwasa’s forces and the splinter group. The latest clash killed about 20 rebels in a northern suburb of Bujumbura in September.
An FNL spokesman accused the government and South African mediators of supporting the dissident FNL group in a bid to weaken Rwasa.

“The people who claim to be dissidents have been created by the government and we will combat them,” FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told Reuters by telephone.

The FNL insurgency is seen as the final barrier to lasting stability in the tiny coffee-growing nation, where more than a decade of civil war has killed some 300,000.
Ends

 


Govt to attend Dube’s burial
BY LINDA MBABAZI

KIGALI - The government will be represented at the burial of Lucky Phillip Dube in South Africa on Sunday. The contents and perhaps world’s leading reggae musician was shot dead in a hijacking on Thursday night in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, South Africa, in front of his two teenagers.

“We sent our condolences and flowers on Friday and we will send a delegation to his burial on Sunday,” Youth, Culture and Sports, Joseph Habineza, said.

Lucky Dube, who died at 43, visited Rwanda three times since 1994 Genocide – in 1996, 2003 and 2006 – and his lyrics and love for children and vulnerable people won him reverence and big following in the country.

His death was greeted with grief across Rwanda with taxis, airwaves, pubs and households playing his songs end-to-end.

Meanwhile, local musicians are due to hold a concert and a vigil in honour of the man many considered their role model.

“We shall have a concert on Saturday at Alpha Palace Hotel (in Remera, a Kigali City suburb) after which we shall hold a night vigil at Contact FM offices on the same night (in Kicukiro, another city suburb,” one of the local Rastafarian artistes, Lion Imanzi, said.

The show will be free of charge, Imanzi, who is also Contact FM’s production manager, said yesterday.  Natty Dread, another Rwandan Rastafarian singer, said local Rastafarian community were yet to decide on whether they would be represented at the burial of the South African reggae king.

Dube who cerebrated his 42nd birthday in Rwanda had promised last year to return to the country to kick-start a dream project as part of his contribution to Rwanda’s recovery from the 1994 Genocide.

Meanwhile only four of the five men arrested in connection with the murder of South African reggae great Lucky Dube could be linked to the killing, police told Sapa yesterday.

The four would appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court today on charges of murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, said Superintendent Eugene Opperman.

A fifth man arrested with them would appear in the Katlehong Magistrate’s Court on a charge related to the possession of suspected stolen property, he said.

The funeral of South Africa’s reggae legend Lucky Dube will be a private affair, family spokesman Arnold Mabunda said today. “The family requested that the funeral be a private matter due to Lucky’s beliefs and the Church’s way of doing things. “They have requested that it not be turned into a circus... That’s not what Lucky would have wanted,” he said.

“We respect the family’s wishes,” said Communication Workers’ Union of SA president Kid Sithole.

 Dube’s funeral service will take place at Farmers’ Hall in Newcastle. A memorial service will be held at the Bassline in Newtown on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Additional reporting by Sapa


Burundi rebels say ceasefire talks without them “meaningless”
BY GERVAIS ABAYEHO
BUJUMBURA - The spokesman for Burundi’s Palipehutu-FNL rebel group has said talks aimed at implementing a ceasefire deal signed with the government in September last year would be meaningless without their participation.

“The meeting is meaningless and its outcome will be meaningless”, Pasteur Habimana told The New Times on the weekend by the telephone from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
“It’s like celebrating a wedding without a bride”, he said.

The FNL delegation to the ceasefire talks disappeared spectacularly in the bush last July on the grounds that their security could not be guaranteed. The move raised fears that fighting would resume in the tiny central African nation of 7 million.

The rebels have ignored calls from the mediation to return to the negotiating table, accusing instead chief mediator, South Africa’s Security minister Charles Nqakula of bias, an accusation he denies.

“They were invited to take part in this meeting; it’s a matter of deep regret that they didn’t take up this invitation”, Nqakula said as he opened the meeting.

“But again I ask them to come back to the negotiating table unconditionally”.

Following the deadlock, hundreds of FNL dissident combatants “committed to peace” have reportedly been coming out the bush to seek protection from government forces.

Clashes between FNL rival factions around the capital and in the countryside have led to dozens being killed.

According to Nqakula, those dissident rebels need food and shelter and they could be a threat to public security as they are armed.

“There is acceptance all around that indeed we must engage with this situation to stop the possibility of it developing into a humanitarian crisis,” he said, adding that the mediation would establish assembly points for combatants who have come forward to ask for assistance.

Other pending issues to be tackled have to do with immunity of rebel leaders expected to come home from exile and the liberation of political and war prisoners.

Another contentious point is the political future of the Palipehutu-FNL men.
Burundi is trying to emerge from 14 years of civil war which has killed over 250,000 persons, most of them civilians.

 Meanwhile, Reuters reported yesterday that nine fighters have been killed in new clashes between two factions of FNL.

Quoting Burundi’s army spokesman, Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza, the agency reported the Monday battle took place in the Kabezi district, about 15 km (nine miles) south of the capital Bujumbura, after combatants loyal to the leader of the ethnic Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) attacked a camp on Sunday.

The camp was sheltering nearly 400 fighters from an FNL faction that opposes FNL leader Agathon Rwasa, said the army spokesman, Colonel Adolphe Manirakiza.

The fighting was the second major clash between Rwasa’s forces and the splinter group. The latest clash killed about 20 rebels in a northern suburb of Bujumbura in September.
An FNL spokesman accused the government and South African mediators of supporting the dissident FNL group in a bid to weaken Rwasa.

“The people who claim to be dissidents have been created by the government and we will combat them,” FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told Reuters by telephone.

The FNL insurgency is seen as the final barrier to lasting stability in the tiny coffee-growing nation, where more than a decade of civil war has killed some 300,000.
Ends

 

 

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