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BURUNDI: EC to aid AU launch ceasefire observer mission

NAIROBI, 5 March 2003 (IRIN) - The EC decided on Tuesday to donate €1.23 million (about US $1.34 million) towards the establishment of an African Union (AU) Ceasefire Observer Mission in Burundi, according to the Commission. The mission will monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreements signed at the end of 2002 between the transitional government and all but one rebel faction.

"This contribution is an expression of support for the peace process in Burundi and of the priority which the European Commission attaches to the restoration of peace and security in Burundi and the Great Lakes Region in general," the EC stated.

Burundi has been in the throes of political instability and war since the assassination in October 1993 of Burundi's first democratically elected president. Some 200,000 Burundians have died as a result.

Based on the Arusha Peace Agreement of August 2000, a transitional government, made up almost equally of Hutus and Tutsis, was inaugurated on 1 November 2001. However, fighting has continued despite the ceasefire accords signed on 7 October and 2 December 2002 between the government and all the rebel factions but one.

An AU peacekeeping force was at the planning stage, the EU reported, but, in order not to lose momentum, there was "a strong need" for an immediate deployment of a ceasefire observer mission. "The Commission of the AU approached the European Union with a proposal for such a mission, with 35 observers from at least four African countries (Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Togo) to be deployed at short notice," the EC reported.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict

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