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Regional Leaders Meet in Tanzania on Burundi Peace - 2002-10-07


Six regional leaders are meeting in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam in an effort to end Burundi's nine-year civil war. Their chances of success are slim.

Heads of state of the Great Lakes region, along with former South African president Nelson Mandela, are meeting in Dar es Salaam to discuss progress in Burundi's troubled peace process.

Few observers believe the regional leaders will get the cease-fire they are hoping for.

Jan van Eck, a Burundi expert based in South Africa, says only two of the four rebel factions are likely to agree to lay down their arms. "Unless there are surprises, what we could have at best is that the two smaller armed movements will sign a cease-fire in Dar es Salaam. And if these two smaller ones do sign a cease-fire obviously it will not end the war in Burundi," he said.

Rebels from Burundi's Hutu majority have been fighting its Tutsi-dominated army since 1993. About 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

A new power sharing government was inaugurated in Burundi last November, but the rebels have refused to recognize it and the violence has continued.

Last month, Burundi's army admitted killing almost 200 civilians in Gitega province, saying it was trying to put down a Hutu rebellion in the area.

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya has asked the regional leaders to take a tough stance against any rebel group that blocks peace efforts.

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