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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

BURUNDI: Ndayizeye appoints members of joint military command

BUJUMBURA, 7 January 2004 (IRIN) - Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye signed on Tuesday a decree appointing 33 members of the Joint Military High Command, 20 from the army and 13 from the former rebel movement Conseil national de la defense de la democratie–Forces de defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD) led by Pierre Nkurunziza.

The appointments are in accordance with a Technical Forces Agreement signed in Pretoria, South Africa, on 2 November 2003, stipulating the composition on the joint command. The agreement stated that the command must comprise 60 percent of officers from the army and 40 percent from the CNDD-FDD.

Although the CNDD-FDD faction led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) faction of Alain Mugabarabona have signed ceasefire accords with the transitional government, they are not included in the joint command.

Ndayizeye also signed another decree on Tuesday, outlining the mandate of the joint command. The command is expected to propose to the government the size and structure of a new National Defence Forces, taking into account the percentages given in the Technical Forces Agreement.

The joint command is also assigned the function of overseeing the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation (DDR) programme of former rebel combatants, and of building trust between the armed forces and the former combatants of the CNDD-FDD and other movements that have signed ceasefire agreements with the government.

The setting up of the joint command is a prelude to the formation of the new National Defence Forces in Burundi, following the signing of a power sharing agreement between the transitional government and Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD on 16 November in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The power sharing agreement allows for the formation of the National Defence Forces by all rebel movements, meaning that some of the demobilised former combatants must be integrated into the new army.

So far, cantonment of former combatants countrywide has been delayed because of the lack of funds. However, Ndayizeye's spokesman, Pancrace Cimpaye, announced on Tuesday that almost all of Nkurunziza's CNDD-FDD former fighters would be in regroupment camps by the end of the week. But the movement's spokesman, Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe, told IRIN Wednesday that this would be impossible.

He said that although the identification of the assembly areas and cantonment of troops had been delayed by the lack of money, 11 regroupment camps had been identified.

"So far, we have former combatants in only five, and even there, only one-third of the expected combatants have arrived at the camps," Ndabirabe said.

He added that he expected the establishment of the joint command to boost the process.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict

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