Nqakula to table report on Burundi Peace Process

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pretoria - Chief Mediator, Charles Nqakula, is expected to table South Africa's final report on the Burundi Peace Process at the summit to be held in Arusha, Tanzania on Friday.

The former South African Defence Minister will table the Final Facilitation Report to the leaders of the Regional Initiative, President Yoweri Museveni and President Jakaya Kwikwete.

The presentation of the Final Facilitation Report marks the successful end of nearly 10 years of involvement by South Africa in the Burundi Peace Process.

South Africa's involvement started with former President Nelson Mandela who negotiated the first comprehensive ceasefire agreement among the warring Burundi movements

South Africa's facilitation efforts involved the disarmament, demobilisation and integration of rebel forces into a national unity defence force, which was mandated by the regional initiative and comes to in December.

As a result, South African peacekeeping troops have been withdrawn from Burundi, ending a successful eight-year mission to help safeguard a peace process originally mediated by former president Nelson Mandela. This process began in August.

According the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, around 100 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers remained in Burundi to provide close protection for Agathon Rwasa, Chairman of Forces National de Liberation (FNL) and his deputy and the FNL national office.

These remaining SANDF officers are expected to depart from Burundi at the end of December.

Under the auspices of the African Union (AU), South Africa sent about 700 troops to Burundi in 2001 to help safeguard the peace process between the government and rebel movements, following a 15-year civil war that claimed an estimated 300 000 lives.

According to the department, over 21 000 FNL combatants have been disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated into Burundi society.

"They include more than 1 000 women combatants and over 500 child soldiers who have been reunited with their families. Another 4000 FNL combatants have been integrated into the Burundi security services."

The FNL has registered as a political party and is participating in the election scheduled for 2010.