UN mission to speed up ceasefire talks with FNL

The newly established UN Mission in Burundi, known by its French acronym ONUB, will meet the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL) rebel faction headed by Agathon Rwasa this week with a view to expediting ceasefire talks, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Burundi, Carolyn McAskie, said on Monday.

She made the announcement in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, when she opened the 19th session of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) of the Peace and Reconciliation Accord signed in August 2000 in Arusha, Tanzania.

Rwasa's FNL is the only remaining rebel movement yet to sign a ceasefire agreement with the transitional government of Burundi, which was set up under the Arusha accord. Three other former rebel movements have signed ceasefire agreements with the government and are taking part in the government.

McAskie also announced that a meeting between donor countries and Burundi would be held on 28 July in Bujumbura, in an effort to revive development, investment and economic partnership with donors.

Among other issues, the three-day IMC session is to address refugee repatriation, the issue of prisoners and the country's social and economic development.

Insecurity in the western province of Bujumbura Rural remained a challenge, because economic partners were reluctant to invest so long as insecurity prevailed in the country, McAskie said. The province is an FNL stronghold.

This IMC session was the first to be chaired by McAskie, who was appointed in May to replace Berhanu Dinka of Ethiopia as Annan's representative to Burundi.

Burundi is emerging from a 10-year civil war between a mostly Tutsi-dominated government and pro-Hutu rebel groups.

Relative peace has returned to most of the country, except for Bujumbura Rural, where Rwasa's FNL continues to attack government forces.