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Burundi's Transitional Government Takes Office - 2001-11-01

In Burundi, a transitional government aimed at ending eight years of civil war in Burundi was sworn in Thursday in the country's capital, Bujumbura.

Among those attending was former South African President Nelson Mandela, chief mediator of the Burundi peace process.

Five African heads of state and Nelson Mandela attended the inauguration ceremony, held in Burundi's flag-festooned parliament building.

President Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, was sworn in as Burundi's head of state for the first 18 months of the transitional government. He will then be succeeded by a Hutu president for a further 18 months. After this, there will be elections.

But there will be no peace in Burundi until the two main Hutu rebel groups agree to a cease-fire. About a 250,000 Burundians, mostly civilians, have been killed since the civil war broke out in 1993.

Several speakers at the ceremony, including President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, appealed to the rebels to come to the negotiating table.

Nelson Mandela, chief mediator of the peace process, is confident there will soon be a cease-fire. "We have worked very hard at engaging the rebels and we continue to make progress through the efforts of President Bongo of Gabon and South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma," he said. "We are confident that under the leadership of these two very able leaders a breakthrough will be achieved soon."

Mr. Mandela added that the rebel groups have told him they would consider entering into negotiations.

President Buyoya says that one of the first priorities of his new transitional government will be to broker a cease-fire.