Burundi's state employees went back to work on Monday, ending an unprecedented two-week general strike and months of protests by the small Central African nation's public sector. The country's first general strike started on December 3, with civil servants complaining that the government was failing to honour pay hike pledges.
Burundi's last active rebel group on Tuesday said it was shunning a weekend meeting to put the Central African nation's derailed peace process back on track as the South African mediator was biased. "The FNL [National Liberation Forces] will not respond to the invitation of South African Minister Charles Nqakula" said Pasteur Habimana, spokesperson for the FNL rebel group.
Burundi's acute political deadlock and the collapse of peace talks have raised fears that the nation might fall back into the deadly conflict that devastated the country for more than a decade. "I'm scared because I have this feeling that the country is going backwards instead of forwards," said Cyrille Barekebuvuge, a shopowner in the centre of the capital.
Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have adopted a joint military strategy to fight rebel groups operating in the war-scarred Great Lakes region, officials said on Thursday. Military commanders from the four countries said those operations would be planned and carried out in conjunction with the country where the rebels are based.
About 300 000 Burundians affected by floods since November last year are due to receive seeds from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to tide them over until the next harvest season, a WFP official has said. The agency will provide the aid between February 15 and March 15.
Burundi's last active rebel group is demanding to have more than half of the slots in the country's army in peace talks with the government that have repeatedly faltered on the issue of the military, officials said Monday. Representatives of the National Liberation Forces are also demanding the post of the national army chief as a pre-condition to reaching a permanent ceasefire.
Burundi's last active rebel group launched mortars at the capital Bujumbura in an attack hours after the country's army claimed to have killed 41 insurgents in recent weeks, the military said on Friday. The National Liberation Forces fired three 60mm shells on Bujumbura's eastern Mutanga and Mutanga south districts late on Thursday, without causing casualties.
Three days after Burundi's interim Constitution came into effect, fighting among the major political parties has not broken out as many people had feared, and leaders who once advocated violence now agree to submit to the constitutional authority. A referendum on a draft Constitution has been delayed to November 26 this year.
At 24, a single mother, Marie -- not her real name -- could have expected a better deal in life. But she was given no choice: while working as a housemaid in Kinindo, a residential suburb of the capital, Bujumbura, Marie was raped and subsequently found herself pregnant. Marie would not have dreamed of seeking an abortion, not least because it is prohibited here.
Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye reshuffled his Cabinet on Sunday to incorporate the country's largest rebel faction, the Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie-Forces Nationales pour la Defense de la Democratie, led by Pierre Nkurunziza. Ndayizeye named Nkurunziza as Minister of State for Good Governance.