Progress slow as Burundi peace talks resumeJuly 22, 1998
Web posted at: 11:12 a.m. EDT (1112 GMT)
ARUSHA, Tanzania (CNN) -- Burundi's warring parties made slow progress Wednesday in the second day of new peace talks aimed at resolving the country's bitter ethnic conflict.
The closed-door talks in the north Tanzanian town of Arusha were adjourned almost immediately after they started for one party to choose its accredited leader, delegates said.
They resumed after half an hour, only to break down again when the government asked for more time for preparation. International mediator Julius Nyerere granted an adjournment until Thursday morning.
Former Tanzanian President Nyerere has been attempting to mediate between the warring parties in Burundi since Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country's first Hutu president in October 1993 and plunged the country into a round of politically inspired ethnic violence.
The talks bring the government of Pierre Buyoya, who took power in a July 1996 coup, face to face with Hutu rebels who are fighting the country's Tutsi-dominated army.
Twelve political parties are also participating in the talks, which are aimed at ending the conflict in which more than 150,000 people died.
Although 65 percent of Burundi's 6 million people are Hutus, the minority Tutsis who make up 14 percent have controlled the country for all but four months since independence from Belgium in 1962.
During initial talks in June all sides tentatively agreed to a cease-fire from June 20.
On Wednesday, the parties were due to discuss a document, laid out by the negotiating team, which sets down guidelines for the conduct of the talks.
Government representatives, the main Hutu opposition party Frodebu and one Hutu rebel group, Frolina, said they had no real problems with the document.
Buyoya's government -- which made a transitional agreement with Frodebu last month -- faces opposition not only from pro-Hutu parties but also from radical pro-Tutsi parties which fear any accommodation with the country's Hutu majority.
Former Burundi President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza -- ousted by Buyoya in an earlier coup in 1987 -- on Tuesday condemned the agreement.
Bagaza's party, Parena, "rejects ... the legitimacy of parliament and the government of transition," he said in a statement.
The latest upsurge of interethnic conflict in Burundi started in October 1993, when Tutsi troops murdered the country's Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, three months after he was elected.
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