(AFP) – Aug 15, 2008
BUJUMBURA (AFP) — Burundi's last active rebel group laid out tough conditions for a power-sharing deal with the government, demanding nearly all key ministries, according to a letter received by AFP on Friday.
The conditions were outlined in a letter signed by National Liberation Forces (FNL) leader Agathon Rwasa and addressed to the mediation team tasked with assisting the implementation of an ailing 2006 truce agreement.
"During the entire negotiations, the Palipehutu-FNL and the Burundian government were on a level playing field... Power-sharing should follow the same rule," he said in the letter.
Palipehutu stands for the Hutu people's liberation party and is the political branch of the FNL, the small central African nation's last active rebel organisation.
"To be specific, we demand one of the two vice-presidencies and 13 out of the government's 26 ministries, including the interior, foreign affairs, defence, finance, planning, justice, agriculture, education, health, trade, labour and energy portfolios," Rwasa said.
The African Union earlier this week voiced its exasperation over the delayed implementation of the ceasefire and urged both sides to display more commitment to advancing the peace process.
Burundi, one of the world's poorest nations, is struggling to recover from a civil war that started in 1993 and has left at least 300,000 people dead.
The FNL rebels also demanded a 50 percent share of top jobs in the country's security apparatus, 10 of the leading diplomatic postings, the post of chief prosecutor and nine out of 17 provincial governor jobs.
"These are totally unrealistic demands, but at least they can be used as a basis for consultations in efforts to rekindle the peace process," a Bujumbura-based foreign diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
He said Rwasa and Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza were due to meet on August 18 under the aegis of the South African-led mediation.
Under Burundi's constitution, Hutus -- who account for 85 percent of the population -- get 60 percent of the cabinet, while Tutsis -- who represent only 14 percent -- are granted the remaining 40 percent of cabinet posts.
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