Burundi President Domitien Ndayizeye has signed a series of laws, creating a new national defense force that includes former rebel fighters.

A presidential spokesman, Pancrace Cimpaye, says since the New Year, the Burundi Armed Forces - as it was formerly called - no longer exists.

The new National Defense Force will have 30,000 troops - evenly split among the nation's minority ethnic Tutsis and majority Hutus. Twenty-thousand officers will make up the new National Police Force - also evenly divided between Tutsis and Hutus.

As part of a peace deal to end Burundi's decade-long war, several former Hutu rebel groups have joined a transitional government designed to end years of dominance by minority Tutsis.

However, Burundi's oldest Hutu rebel group, the National Liberation Forces, continues to fight the government.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.