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Burundi President Appoints New Cabinet - 2003-11-24

Burundi's president, Domitien Ndayizeye, has appointed a new cabinet, following the government's recent agreement with the country's main rebel group.

Members of Burundi's main Hutu rebel group, a faction of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy, are now represented in the country's government. They hold four of the 27 ministerial posts. Rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza is Burundi's new minister for good governance.

The former Hutu rebels also hold a 40 percent share in the army's officer corps.

The peace agreement between the government and the leading Hutu rebels was signed November 16 at a regional summit in Tanzania. A number of African leaders were on hand to witness the event.

Absent from the negotiations and the new government is another, smaller Hutu rebel group, the National Liberation Forces, or FNL. This group says it would first negotiate with ethnic Tutsis before it talks to the government. The government is headed by a Hutu president, but the army is dominated by Tutsis.

The FNL has been responsible for a number of attacks in the capital, Bujumbura, in recent months.

A spokesman for the vice president's office, Marcien Barakawa, said the country is off to a good start with the new cabinet. "We hope for the best. We hope maybe this is going to bring peace for Burundi. But we are waiting for the other armed rebels to come to the negotiations," he said.

The 10-year-old civil war in Burundi has cost an estimated 300,000 lives. The war began after the Tutsi-dominated army assassinated the then-president, who was a Hutu.