After two and a half years of negotiations in Arusha, nineteen Burundian political parties finally signed a peace agreement on 28 August 2000, in the presence of U.S. President Bill Clinton and of many regional Heads of State.
In the immediate aftermath of Zimbabwe's 24-25 June 2000 Parliamentary elections, many Zimbabweans optimistically expected that their country would begin to return to normal-leaving behind the six months of violence, intimidation, farm invasions, racist political rhetoric, and erosion of the rule of law.
Burundi has been involved in a civil war since the assassination of the first-ever democratically elected President and FRODEBU leader Melchior Ndadaye, in October 1993. For the last 26 months, the government of Major Pierre Buyoya, which took power in a coup four years ago, has been engaged in negotiations with FRODEBU together with the other political parties.
After two years of negotiations, the Burundian peace process has reached a critical stage. In his capacity as Mediator, Nelson Mandela, during his latest visit to Bujumbura from 12 to 14 June renewed his support for rebel demands that President Pierre Buyoya's government should free all political prisoners regardless of their crimes and restore the rights of political parties.
Zimbabwe's 24-25 June 2000 parliamentary election resulted in President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU (PF) party retaining power. However, the nine month old opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), made an impressive showing, winning 57 of the 120 contested seats.
The present briefing previews detailed research findings contained in a forthcoming report on the Burundi peace process by the International Crisis Group. The full report is scheduled for publication at the end of June.
In August 1999, only a month after the signing of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, a new dynamic of conflict emerged within the anti-Kabila alliance and further complicated Africa’s seven-nation war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Involved in a civil war since the assassination in 1993 of Melchior Ndadaye, the first elected president, Burundi is now at a crossroads. Since 1998 the government of Major Pierre Buyoya (who returned to power in July 1996) has been engaged in a negotiation process with FRODEBU, winner of the 1993 elections, as well as with most of the Burundian political groups.
There has been a considerable Burundian refugee population, almost entirely Hutu, in countries neighbouring Burundi, and especially Tanzania, since the 1972 mass slaughter of Hutus when 300,000 are reported to have fled.
After a year of failed attempts by Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), South Africa and other regional powerbrokers, the six countries involved in Africa’s seven-nation war in the Democratic Republic of Congo signed the Agreement for a Cease-fire in the DRC in Lusaka on 10 July 1999.
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