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Burundi Gov't, Rebels Agree on Composition of Security Forces - 2003-10-07

Talks aimed at ending Burundi's decades-long civil war are continuing in South Africa with reports of progress on the composition of the military and police for the transitional government.

Burundi's government and the rebel Forces for the Defense of Democracy, or FDD, are reported to have agreed on the composition the military and the police services. However, there has been no official progress report from the talks in Pretoria and the details of the agreement remain unconfirmed.

The FDD had demanded that its forces comprise 40 percent of the new national army and was also calling for a complete restructuring of the police services. The AFP news agency quotes FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza as saying the rebels were satisfied with the compromise that had been reached.

Reports of the agreement surfaced after an all-night negotiation session between the two sides.

South African President Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Jacob Zuma are continuing to mediate between the delegations.

Burundi president Domitien Ndayizeye and FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza are now focusing on power-sharing arrangements for the transitional government.

The talks are the latest in a series of attempts to iron out the details of a transitional government for Burundi since a ceasefire agreement was signed last December. The agreement has been largely ignored and in recent months dozens of people have died, adding to the list of some 300,000 casualties since the start of the conflict in 1993.