Burundi opposition FRODEBU party is expressing disappointment at the
lack of progress with the ongoing peace negotiations between President
Pierre Nkurunziza's government and the Palepehutu rebels. This comes
after the rebels said they would miss the December 31 deadline to be
transformed into a political party. The rebels cited the refusal of
President Nkurunziza's government to fully implement the 2006 peace deal
as the main reason for not being able to meet Wednesday's deadline. But
the government has dismissed the accusation saying it is the rebels who
should abide by the 2006 agreement.* *Pancrase Cimpaya is the spokesman
for the opposition FRODEBU party.* *He tells reporter Peter Clottey from
the capital, Bujumbura that Burundians are worried the rebels would take
up arms and begin fighting again.
"I can tell you that Burundians are very disappointed because we
consider the peace process as a big challenge and the Burundians are
expecting peace for good. But unfortunately the peace Burundians are
seeking for is far away," Cimpaya noted.
He said the Nkurunziza government has deliberately kept secret all
negotiations with the rebels.
"The situation is the peace process between the government and the
Palepehutu FNL (Forces for National Liberation) is like a hidden agenda
because it is something strictly between the CNDD-FDD (ruling party) and
the Palepehutu FNL. And I can tell you that we are members of the
cabinet, but unfortunately, we don't know exactly the time table of the
talks. And all the information we get about the peace negotiations we
got from the media, and that is a pity," he said.
Cimpaya said opposition party concerns about being kept in the dark
about the ongoing peace negotiations have fallen on deaf ears so far.
"We do complain every time. We even complained to the international
community, especially to the facilitators. And nowadays they are
admitting that it was wrong for other parties to put aside other
parties, especially those in cabinet or those in the national assembly
(parliament). We don't know what is happening and unfortunately we are
not moving forward and now the deadline is not being respected," Cimpaya
He faulted the government for refusing to fully implement the 2006 peace
agreement with the rebels.
"The situation is that they are not implementing the ceasefire agreement
and even the power sharing. What he heard through the media is that the
head of state decided to give whatever he wants and now the Palepehutu
FNL is complaining. And the issue of the power sharing has not been so
far discussed between the two parties," he said.
Cimpaya said the government is refusing to ensure an amicable solution
to the problems with the rebels.
"I think that there is no will to move forward. I think the most
important thing for the government or the CNDD-FDD should worry about is
the election. I think they are afraid of the Palepehutu FNL because the
situation right now is in bad situation and the opposition is becoming
powerful day by day. And maybe the CNDD-FDD doesn't want the Palepehutu
FNL to come in because it would be a bad thing to get the rebels inside
because it would make th8ings difficult for them to handle the
opposition," Cimpaya pointed out.
The rebel Forces for National Liberation (FNL) are asking peace
mediators to ensure they are given more time to complete the change from
a rebel group into a political party. The rebels also called on
President Nkurunziza's government to set up assembly areas for rebel
fighters as well as provide them with food and medicine.
But some observers said the political and military integration of the
FNL rebels might be the last barrier to providing stability in Burundi.
Meanwhile, South Africa, which has been leading mediation efforts
between the rebels and the Bujumbura government is reportedly growing
impatient with both sides and issued an ultimatum until the end of this
year to complete the peace agreement or risk losing regional support.