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DATE=12/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=BURUNDI / MANDELA (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-256704 BYLINE=JENNIFER WIENS DATELINE=NAIROBI CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 countries. 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 halted. 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 Israel. 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 appointment. (Signed) NEB/JW/JWH/KL 01-Dec-1999 07:24 AM EDT (01-Dec-1999 1224 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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