Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Burundi's Last Rebel Group Becomes Political Party

Burundi's Last Rebel Group Becomes Political Party

4-22-09 5:49 AM EDT

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AFP)--Burundi's last rebel group, the National Liberation Forces, or FNL, officially became a political party Wednesday after ending its 29-year armed struggle.

A document signed overnight by an Interior Ministry official recognized the former rebel outfit as a legitimate political party.

General Evariste Ndayishimye, a leading player in the government's negotiations with the rebels, confirmed the accord.

"All of the fighters controlled by the FNL are from now on under the command of the special African Union Force in Burundi," he said.

"The condition for the FNL to become a political was that they no longer have a military branch, and that has been achieved."

The approval of the FNL as a political party means there are officially no more rebels in the small war-scarred central African nation and marked one of the most symbolic steps in Burundi's protracted peace process.

The small Great Lakes nation has struggled to emerge from a 13-year civil war that cooled following a 2006 ceasefire but left 300,000 dead.

The civil war pitted the army, once dominated by minority Tutsis, against various rebel Hutu movements.

But tribal tensions have eased somewhat since 2005. Burundi is now led by a former Hutu rebel leader, and strict guidelines mandate that both the army and police contain a mixture of both Hutu and Tutsi personnel.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

No comments: