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|Thursday, November 01, 2001, updated at 22:00(GMT+8)|
Burundi's New Govt. Set to Take OfficeFinal preparations were under way Wednesday to inaugurate Burundi's transitional government, which faces the tough task of winning over a skeptical and divided public and securing a cease-fire to end eight years of killing.
The transitional administration takes office Thursday. Led by President Pierre Buyoya, it is to implement a power-sharing agreement to end the conflict between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated army.
More than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the fighting broke out in 1993 in the central African country.
The accord was signed in August 2000 by Buyoya's government, the National Assembly and 17 political parties ¡ª 10 Tutsi, seven Hutu. But the rebels have refused to take part in the peace process and have said their armed campaign will continue, raising doubts about the government's ability to secure peace.
``It is indeed bizarre and virtually unprecedented that a peace agreement and the installation of a new transitional government should actually have been agreed upon while the war still continues,'' said Jan Van Eck, a South African conflict analyst.
Since Burundi gained independence from Belgium in 1962, hundreds of thousands have died in ethnic violence driven by power struggles, attacks and reprisals.
Despite being the minority, Tutsis have effectively ruled the nation of 6 million for all but a few months since 1962, and suspicions between Tutsis and Hutus run deep.
South Africa had to agree to deploy 701 soldiers in Burundi before exiled Hutu politicians would return to join the new government.
The accord calls for an ethnically balanced army and legislature and representation for all the signatories in the transitional government.
State radio said Tuesday that the administration will have 14 Hutu ministers, including the ministers of justice and internal security, while Tutsi parties will have 12.
Buyoya, a Tutsi, is to lead the government for 18 months with Domitien Ndayizeye, a leader in Burundi's largest Hutu party, as his vice president. After that, a Hutu will become president and a Tutsi his deputy.
Since 1998 ¡ª two years after Buyoya seized power in coup ¡ª the National Assembly has been 60 percent Hutu and 40 percent Tutsi, with Buyoya's Uprona party and a faction of the Hutu Frodebu party sharing the assembly's seats. But Tutsis have held the key posts in the government and army.
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