"Rwasa is killing innocent people. He cuts the heads off people, accusing them of collaborating with the army" - say Rwasa's own troops
A spokesman for the group which comprises some 260 members of the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) said their decision to sever ties with rebel leader Agathon Rwasa was made at the weekend.
The same FNL faction said last month they were tired of waging war and urged Rwasa to accept rebel-turned-president Pierre Nkurunziza's offer of negotiations. But it is not clear whether all FNL fighters support the move.
The faction's spokesman, Sylvestre Niyungeko, said it had rejected several top FNL leaders including Rwasa, force commander Ibrahim Ntakarutimana and secretary-general Jonas Nshimirimana.
"Rwasa is killing innocent people. He cuts the heads off people, accusing them of collaborating with the army," Niyungeko told Reuters by telephone from the FNL's stronghold on the outskirts of Bujumbura.
"This is unacceptable, and for us there is no justification of pursuing fighting," he added.
Rwasa was not immediately available to comment on the claims.
Niyungeko said a council of 29 people, led by former FNL deputy chairman Jean Bosco Sindayigaya, had been put in place.
"The council is leading the movement, pending a special session in which the movement will elect new leaders," he said, adding that the council urged government troops to refrain from attacking the bases of FNL fighters who want peace.
New President Nkurunziza, himself a former Hutu rebel boss, was sworn in on Aug. 26, vowing to pursue peace to end 12 years of conflict that has killed 300,000 people in the coffee grower.
Securing peace in the tiny central African state is seen as crucial to overall stability in the volatile Great Lakes, a region racked by ethnic conflict, fights over resources and refugee problems. The region also includes neighbouring Rwanda.
Last week, Nkurunziza warned the FNL to enter talks with the government by the end of October or face "serious action".
Niyungeko said his group will consider how to engage talks with the government.
Regional leaders declared the FNL a terrorist organisation after it was implicated in the massacre of more than 160 Congolese Tutsi refugees last year at a camp in western Burundi.
But the FNL has never stopped fighting, despite several appeals to join the peace process to end Tutsi domination. Tutsis have held sway in Burundi since independence from Belgium in 1962 and have committed many of the worst massacres.
Nkurunziza's inauguration after a series of democratic polls has produced a fairer share of power, but analysts say lasting peace will not be secured until the FNL lays down its arms.
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa
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