TITLE=BURUNDI / MANDELA (L ONLY)
INTRO: Former South African president Nelson Mandela
has been named the new chief mediator in the Burundi
peace process. As Jennifer Wiens reports from V-O-A's
East Africa bureau, African leaders hope Mr. Mandela's
prestige and skill as Africa's leading statesman will
help jump-start the stalled Burundi talks.
TEXT: Reports from a meeting of African leaders in
Arusha, Tanzania say Nelson Mandela was picked as the
mediator for Burundi after intense negotiations
between representatives from the United Nations, the
Organization of African Unity, and several African
The former South African president replaces former
Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere who died in October.
Mr. Nyerere had spent more than one year trying to
broker an end to the civil unrest in Burundi.
More than 200-thousand people have died in Burundi
since fighting broke out in 1993 between the ethnic
Tutsi-dominated government and rebels from the
majority ethnic Hutu. An estimated one-million people
have been displaced by the fighting, with thousands of
people being forced into controversial "resettlement"
camps by the Burundi military in an attempt to stop
civilian support for the Hutu rebels.
Talks to end the civil war were begun in June of last
year, but little progress was made, and rebel attacks
around the capital, Bujumbura, have escalated in the
past few months. Some of Burundi's rebel groups
refused to participate in the talks at all, and after
Mr. Nyerere's death, the peace process was effectively
Mr. Mandela was named during a regional summit of
African leaders to discuss the Burundi crisis.
Officials from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South
Africa, Tanzania and Uganda attended the meeting, as
did O-A-U Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim.
South African officials say the 81-year old Mr.
Mandela will accept the post, despite his initial
reluctance to take over the Burundi job because of his
present involvement as a mediator between Syria and
Experts say Mr. Mandela's prestige as Africa's most
well-known leader and statesman may bring extra-
pressure to bear on both the Burundi government and
the rebels to make peace. A representative from one
of Burundi's largest opposition groups, Frodebu, has
already indicated the group welcomes Mr. Mandela's
01-Dec-1999 07:24 AM EDT (01-Dec-1999 1224 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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