DATE=4/27/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=MANDELA / BURUNDI NUMBER=5-46212 BYLINE=SCOTT STEARNS DATELINE=BUJUMBURA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Former South African President Nelson Mandela arrives in Burundi Friday as part of a peace mission to end that country's ethnic violence. V-O-A's Scott Stearns, in Bujumbura, reports Mr. Mandela wants to expand talks to include the country's main rebel group. TEXT: Since taking charge of the Burundi peace talks late last year, Mr. Mandela has convinced leaders from the main rebel group to join the dialogue. Now he is coming to Burundi's capital to meet with senior military leaders about their role in the process. Ethnic Hutu rebels have been fighting Burundi's army since paratroopers murdered the first democratically- elected president in 1993. The death of President Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, set off the latest wave of ethnic violence between Hutu rebels and a government army dominated by the ethnic-minority Tutsi. It is Mr. Mandela's first trip to Burundi and, like everywhere he goes, there is considerable interest in seeing a living African hero. People here are less confident he has the answers for a history of ethnic division. There are nearly 20 Burundian groups represented in the talks Mr. Mandela chairs. Committees have struggled months over an agenda. Including rebels in talks next month is the biggest move forward since negotiations began two years ago. Announcing the move earlier this year, Mr. Mandela told delegates to the peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, that nothing they decide will have any validity unless it has the support of rebels. /// MANDELA ACT ONE /// There is no guarantee that if the 18 political parties negotiating agree on a course of action that will be honored by the rebel groups. And therefore, if we want to resolve this issue and bring about peace and unity in Burundi, those rebels groups must be included. /// END ACT /// In Bujumbura Friday, Mr. Mandela is scheduled to meet with Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and senior military officials. The government here has already been in separate talks with some of the rebels and has encouraged their inclusion in the Arusha talks. With most of the military government on-board, Mr. Mandela's challenge to including the main rebel group comes from other smaller rebels already at the talks. They fear the inclusion of another group will weaken their position. Mr. Mandela says such obstructionism has led to a belief among the international community that Burundi's leaders are not serious about peace. /// MANDELA ACT TWO /// There is a view from people who have been very close to this situation that in Burundi you do not have a patriotic leadership that thinks about the nation as a whole. Political leaders are thinking about their own individual positions. /// END ACT /// Mr. Mandela has been unusually harsh as a mediator, saying delegates have the blood of innocent civilians on their hands for delaying talks and prolonging the conflict. Mr. Mandela's frank talk has ruffled some delegates, who say he has been poisoned against them by their opponents. Even in his most stinging criticism, Mr. Mandela offers, in effect, to try and save Burundians from what some call their own irresponsibility. /// MANDELA ACT THREE /// Other people may say you are irresponsible. I will not say so myself -- except that I will be disturbed and I will urge you to behave in a way which will minimize the danger of you being dismissed as irresponsible people. /// END ACT /// Mr. Mandela's mediation efforts have the backing of the international community. Organization of African Unity Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim says expanding the talks is the only way forward. /// SALIM ACT /// We all understand that given the bitterness, the misunderstanding, and the trauma experienced, the way forward is not going to be an easy one. But dialogue and mutual accommodation is the only way to restore peace, security and national reconciliation in Burundi. /// END ACT /// // OPT // Mr. Mandela began his work as Burundi's mediator in February, with a satellite video conference between President Clinton in the United States and the delegates gathered in Arusha. It was the former South African president delivering on his celebrity, by presenting President Clinton live from the White House. But the speech did little to convince Burundian delegates that Mr. Mandela's leadership represents real change. President Clinton challenged Burundi's leaders to be part of Africa's future by bridging their ethnic divide. /// CLINTON ACT /// The real question for the leaders from Burundi who have gathered with you in Arusha, is whether your country will share in the promise of this future. Will you lead the way to a lasting settlement for the larger conflicts in the Great Lakes Region? Will you show the way for other societies in Europe and Asia who are also victimized by these kinds of ethnic conflicts? Or will you hesitate and falter? If that were to happen, I am afraid a disaster would befall your people and it would seep beyond your borders. /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// Burundi's disaster has already swept beyond its borders. Fighting this week north of the capital concentrated on rebel strongholds near the village of Tenga. Tenga is on the edge of the broad Imbo Plain through which rebels regularly cross into neighboring Congo and Rwanda. Both Burundi's government and the rebels are involved in Congo's civil war. The government backs Congolese rebels supported by Rwanda and Uganda. Burundian rebels have sided with local militiamen opposed to the rebellion and nominally allied with Congolese President Laurent Kabila. (Signed) NEB/SKS/JWH/WTW 27-Apr-2000 11:29 AM EDT (27-Apr-2000 1529 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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