Burundi´s Civil War Ends as New Government Takes Office

Tutsis and Hutus Share Power, for Now

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ROME, NOV. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A new provisional government took office last week in Burundi, ending an eight-year civil war between Hutus and Tutsis that left 250,000 dead.



The executive branch is headed by President Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, and Vice President Domitien Ndayizeye, a Hutu and secretary-general of the Front for Democracy in Burundi, the principal Hutu party. In 18 months, they are scheduled to exchange posts.

The leaders of the two main rebel movements in Burundi are "prepared to negotiate with the new government," said the official mediator and author of the diplomatic achievement, former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Mandela made the announcement Thursday in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, after talking to the leaders of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy and the National Liberation Forces.

A South African contingent of 480 men has arrived in the Central African nation to guarantee the stability of the new government.

Mandela said a Nigerian contingent should be "available" on Dec. 1, while contingents from Senegal and Ghana await U.N. permission.

In statements to Vatican Radio from Bujumbura, Xaverian Missionary Father Claudio Marano said: "For the first time, many heads of state and politicians have worked from abroad to attain peace in Burundi. This is a novelty."

Commenting on the new government, Father Marano said that it "might have difficulties, as it has been formed by representatives of 19 parties that, despite contrasts and differences, have now gathered the people to form a government."

Already there is fear that tensions will arise within 18 months when a new Hutu president comes to power in the Central African nation of 6.2 million.

According to Father Marano, "The problem is to see how much foreign intervention can influence an eventual situation of divergence."

"We hope that the international community will not go away and not think of resolving Burundi´s problems only at the economic level, but that it will be prepared to discuss other questions," the Xaverian missionary added. "Otherwise we will have to start all over again."