Sant´Egidio Leads Peace Talks for Burundi

ROME, MAY 23, 2001 ( Peace talks to end the eight-year civil war in Burundi have been resumed in Rome with the help of the Sant´Egidio Community.

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Four of the five political and military forces in the Burundi conflict held a meeting a few days ago with Sant´Egidio, a Church movement that previously mediated peace agreements in Mozambique and Guatemala.

The groups agreed to direct negotiations to resolve outstanding issues, which were not implemented following the agreements in Arushas, Tanzania, last autumn.

Issues still to be addressed include the composition of an interim government, the rehabilitation of guerrilla members for entrance into civilian life, the problem of security, and the need for a total cease-fire. The war has claimed 200,000 lives in the country of 6 million.

The heads of Unity for National Progress, the Party for National Redress, and the CNDD signed a document giving evidence, Sant´Egidio said, of «the decision to implement the Arusha agreements, removing the obstacles that existed, as well as remaining open to other contributions.» The Burundi Democratic Front joined in the talks but did not sign the pact.

Consultations are scheduled to continue in Rome, with Sant´Egidio´s help. The community was founded in 1968 and now has 40,000 lay people in more than 60 countries.

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