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Rebels Attack Market in Burundi's Capital Ahead of President's Swearing-In

25 August 2005

Violence against civilians persists in Burundi ahead of the presidential inauguration Friday as rebels from the National Liberation Front, the country's last remaining rebel group, attacked a market in the nation's capital, Bujumbura.

Government officials said Thursday, several people were wounded after fighters from the National Liberation Front attacked a market on the outskirts of Bujumbura.

It's the latest in a series of attacks by the group, known by its French acronym, FNL.

The FNL is the only one of seven rebel groups in the country that has not signed onto the peace process to end Burundi's 12-year civil war between the ethnic Hutu majority, from where the FNL draws its members, and the once-ruling Tutsi minority.

Alain Mugabarabona, former president for the National Liberation Front, declined an interview with VOA, saying that his rebel group planned to announce whether they would join the peace process after the president's swearing-in.

A political analyst in Burundi for the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, Jan Van Eck, says a top priority for the Burundi's new president is negotiating a cease-fire with the FNL and bringing them into the peace process. The new president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is to be sworn in Friday. Mr. Van Eck says he must act quickly.

"It's critically important for the government of President Nkurunziza to do what he said he will do, and that is to engage the FNL in negotiations and bring the peace process to a conclusion," he said.

Asked why the FNL was continuing to fight, Mr. Van Eck had this to say.

"They believe that they represent the feeling of the average Hutu person," he explained. "And that the humiliation that Hutus suffered over the years can only be resolved by some admission of guilt. Hutus have to admit what they did wrong and Tutsis have to admit what they did wrong. And we are far from reaching that situation."

Burundi's war erupted in 1993 after the country's first democratically elected president, a Hutu, was assassinated by paratroopers from the Tutsi-dominated military.

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