The Burundian government is blaming the last rebel Palepehutu FNL group for an attack on the capital Bujumbura Tuesday night as peace talks that started early this week continue in Tanzania. Meanwhile the government is insisting on a cessation of rebel attack while urging them to join their countrymen rebuild the country after 12 years off civil war. Fighting between the government and FNL resumed in May 2005, a week after the two sides signed a ceasefire.
Karenga Ramadan is Burundi’s Minister of Information. He discussed the situation in the capital following the attack with English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey. “The situation is always like that because when they have been trying to shell some areas in Bujumbura in fact they wanted to show that the negotiations which are taking place in Tanzania is a proof that they are not prepared for talks. And we have been telling the international community and the local opinion that normally FNL Palapehutu is not willing to in practical to talk. But the consequence of that we are sure that the government will continue with the path of negotiation no matter how this organization is trying to upset the way or pace… we will be continuing with the talks.”
Talking about specific demands his government is making at the ongoing peace talks, he said, “For us there is nothing new because we from the beginning said that this group is not willing to talk and this is the second proof that they cannot be prepared to talk. But as a legitimate and a democratically elected government we will be doing all the effort to make sure that the FNL palepehutu is committed and to talk and finally have a lasting solution to the Burundi problem… but on the other side we will be standing firm to make sure that this kind of provocation is no longer going on because at one point we would be telling the international community and the local opinion that the government is fed up of this kind of provocation. But after this stage we are sure that nothing has been really jeopardized or hampering the process or the pace of peace.”
Asked about his government expectations of the peace talks with the rebels, he said, “What we are saying is very clear. The most important step that has to be reached during these negotiations is the cessation of hostilities because we have managed to neutralize some of their activities especially in the province neighboring the capital city of Bujumbura. Although some kind of shelling as they did Tuesday night but we hope that by this process already started in Tanzania there will be a stopping of their hostilities actions and then we can proceed to the talks.”
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