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African Mission In Burundi

April 1, 2003

President Pierre Buyoya
As the date for the hand over of power in Burundi approaches (May 1, 2003), concerns over the future structure of the Burundi army is intensifying. The peace process that led up to the power sharing arrangement has supported efforts to integrate the Burundian army, so that it can include more Hutu ranking officers, as well as integrate the thousands of Hutu dissidents who have been struggling to overthrow the Tutsi dominated government in Burundi.

The position that the AUF has taken from the very start of the process, has been that the creation of a new Burundian army is unnecessary in the context of African unification. Instead the leaders of Burundi and the African Union must work towards demobilizing the Burundi army entirely, so that Burundi should not have an army separate from the All African Union army. The BaRundi soldiers and officers, both Hutu and Tutsi, including the rebels should be integrated into an all African force, to be deployed only for peace keeping operations in the African Union.

The AUF also has called for the demobilization of the various armies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is in a transition phase similar to Burundi's, and reconstitution as the all African peacekeeping army. In fact all of the armed forces in the African Union should be reorganizing in preparation for military integration, and for peacekeeping across the African Union.

So far the obstacles to military integration seems to be the slow and schizophrenic approach to unity that the members of the African Assembly of Heads of State have taken in continuing to export and import weapons unilaterally across the continent, despite being signatories to a process that logically subsumes their military efforts into a single coherent defence structure that has the capacity to resolve all of their legitimate security concerns.

The Burundi and Congo soldiers who do not wish to be redeployed and attached to peacekeeping units in neutral states (African states not directly involved in the Burundi or Congo conflicts) should be demobilized and reintegrated into their communities, and given work or scholarships. The money that Burundi spends on the defence budget should be used for their integration into civilian occupations. The security of Burundi should continue to be guaranteed by the All-African Special Protection Unit and the peacekeeping forces deployed by the African Union under the command of the AU Commission and the Organ for Conflict Management.

To start with, the peacekeeping troops in Africa that are deployed under the aegis of the African Union should have a standard uniform and insignia. At the end of the operations they should not be returned to the state command, but should be given the option to remain under the employ of the African Union. The African Union Commission should get the states to give up a couple of bases for permanent and exclusive use by peacekeepers and their officers, until such a time that all of the bases in the African Union are turned over the AU Commission.



The All-African SPECIAL PROTECTION UNIT in charge of the security for Burundi national leaders is now in place in preparation for the November 1, 2001 inauguration of the transition governemnt in Burundi.

Over the weekend 240 SPU soldiers from South Africa were deployed in Burundi to protect politicians returning from exile. The SPU soldiers have their own armored vehicles and two unarmed military helicopters.

The last contingent of troops from South Africa arrives on Thursday, bringing the total number of South African troops to be deployed in Burundi to 701.

Other troops of the SPU arriving from Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana will be in place beginning November 1st, 2001.