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Burundi's FNL Rebels Reject Peace Deal - 2003-11-05

Burundi's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Forces, has rejected a peace deal between the government and another rebel group which could lead to renewed violence in Burundi.

A spokesman for the National Liberation Forces, Pasteur Habimana, says his group does not recognize a peace deal that the Burundi government and a faction of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) signed last Sunday in South Africa.

Mr. Habimana said his group cannot agree to the peace deal because the Forces for the Defense of Democracy faction and government wants to "join hands and kill us."

The South African talks were mediated in Pretoria by South African Vice President Jacob Zuma.

Under the agreement, the Forces for the Defense of Democracy faction would become a political party and would be included in Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye's transitional government within three weeks.

The deal also provides temporary immunity to both sides from prosecution, and includes detailed arrangements on the composition of the national army.

The agreement is to be formally signed later this month.

But the National Liberation Forces, which had been responsible for an outbreak of violence in Burundi's capital Bujumbura earlier this year, was not included in the peace talks. Analysts have said this could lead to more fighting in the country.

The 10-year-old civil war in Burundi has cost an estimated 300,000 lives.