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Rebel chief says he renounces 'armed struggle'

Video by Jonathan WALSH , Sarah DRURY

Latest update : 2009-04-19

Agathon Rwasa said 'Burundians can rest assured, we are not going to resume war,' at a demobilisation ceremony near Burundi's largest city, as he renounced 'armed struggle' following a peace deal reached with the government.

AFP - Burundi rebel chief Agathon Rwasa said Saturday at a demobilisation ceremony here that he has renounced his movement's "armed struggle" after more than 13 years of civil war.

"This ceremony signifies that we renounce the armed struggle and that we will now focus on political struggle," said Rwasa, the head of the National Liberation Forces, the Central African nation's last active rebel group.

He added: "Burundians can rest assured, we are not going to resume war."

Rwasa spoke to journalists after the ceremony organised at a camp in Rubira, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Bujumbura, where the former rebels surrendered their arms in line with a peace deal reached with the government.

The rebel chief himself handed over his Kalashnikov rifle to a soldier from South Africa, which helped mediate the peace accord.

"We are satisfied because it is a major symbol if the warlord agrees to give up his weapons, that signifies that the war is over," said General Evariste Ndayishimiye, the military chief for Burundi's president who represented the government in the negotiations with the rebels.

Once the disarmament is completed, the Burundi government is expected on Tuesday to recognise the FNL as a political party, said South African General Derrick Mgwebi.

Bujumbura and the FNL rebels agreed on December 4 to resolve the final obstacles delaying the implementation of a peace deal reached in September 2006.

So far, some 5,500 FNL fighters have assembled at an encampment site in Rubira, and 121 child soldiers have been separated from other combatants.

 

Date created : 2009-04-18

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