Burundi: Tanzania is supporting a "terrorist group"
The fate of the peace tal-ks between the Burundi government and the remaining rebel group, the Force for National Liberation (FNL) scheduled to take place in Dar es Salaam hangs in the balance.
Burundi, which has boycotted the talks, now accuses Tanzania of supporting a "terrorist group."
Since mid-March, the FNL leader Agathon Rwasa and his delegation have been in Dar es Salaam waiting for "unconditional peace negotiations with the Burundi government."
The Burundi government, through its spokesman Karenga Ramadhani, has confirmed that it has received an invitation from Tanzania requesting it to attend the peace negotiations with FNL in Dar es Salaam.
The major reason for not attending the talks, a source from the Burundi government said in Dar es Salaam last week, was the fact that the "invitation had no agenda."
As a result no delegation will be sent to Tanzania for the talks. However, just "an exploratory team to go and listen to the Tanzania government," would
The source said concerns had been raised in relation to the role being played by Tanzania in the whole issue.
"An initiative by countries in the Great Lakes region to bring peace to Burundi, chaired by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, declared the FNL a terrorist organisation, said the source. He added that the Burundi authorities were surprised to hear that Tanzania had offered a platform to FNL leaders.
This was after the FNL killed at least 150 Congolese refugees in Gatumba in August, 2004. Gatumba is near the Burundi-Democratic Republic of Congo border.
Tanzania's Minister for International Co-operation and Foreign Affairs Dr Asha-Rose Migiro was not available for comment.
However, a ministry official told The EastAfrican that the accusations made by Burundi were baseless because Tanzania took over the role of the mediator in the Burundi peace talks when Uganda relinquished that responsibility.
Uganda is no longer a mediator in the Burundi peace talks and according to Burundi government sources, there was nothing for mediation because FNL is illegal, and all parties who took part in the Burundi peace talks had sanctioned that stand.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch says the FNL has continued to use violence to punish civilians who refuse to support them.
At the same time, government forces are accused of continuing to commit "extra-judicial executions of suspected FNL combatants and supporters with impunity."
The report, released in February, further says that the human rights monitors on the United Nations peacekeeping force (United Nations Operation in Burundi-ONUB) say it that government soldiers were suspected of having summarily executed FNL members.
The FNL is a Hutu-extremist group linked to the militia who carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Under Rwasa, the FNL forces have been implicated in a systematic campaign of attacks on civilians, both Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
One of its consistent tactics has been the ambushing of civilian vehicles on the roads around Bujumbura. Most of the FNL victims are often tortured before they are killed. Rwasa assumed leadership of the Burundian rebel group Palipehutu-FNL in 2001 after deposing the group's leader, Cossan Kabura.
The ruling CNDD-FDD was also formed by ethnic Hutu rebel group, but later transformed into a political party. Following a series of CNDD-FDD victories in elections held during June and July 2005, Pierre Nkurunziza was elected unopposed by members of parliament on August 19, 2005 and took office on August 26, 2005.
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Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa