- Title: BURUNDI: Prisoners from last remaining rebel group have been freed
- Date: 5th January 2009
- Summary: BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI (JANUARY 03, 2009) (REUTERS) BURUNDI FLAG FLYING POLICEMAN STANDING ON THE ROOF OF THE PRISON THROUGH THE DOOR OF THE PRISON/ PRISONERS VARIOUS OF PRISONERS GROUP OF PRISONERS PLAYING CARDS MORE OF PRISONERS WALKING AROUND PRISONER CARRYING A MATTRESS AFRICAN UNION SOLDIER DIRECTING A PRISONER SOLDIER HELPS PRISONER CARRY OUT HIS BELONGINGS EX-PRISONER CLIMBS ON TRUCK PRISONERS WAVING GENERAL LAZARE NDUWAYO EXPLAINS TO THE JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (French) GENERAL LAZARE NDUWAYO, CHIEF GOVERNMENT DELEGATE OF THE PEACE PROCESS, SAYING "We have just begun a very important activity, releasing of these political prisoners of war, the principal reason which pushed us to wait until this moment is that the gathering zone of Rubira or where they were to go after their release especially for the combatants, was not yet ready." VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS PROTECTING 12 PRISONERS TO MILITARY CAMP OF MUZINDA BADGE OF THE AFRICAN UNION SOLDIER AND THE FACES OF FNL COMBATANTS/ PRISONERS OF WAR VIEW OF A GUN/ FNL COMBATANTS/POWS SEATING FACES OF TWO FNL COMBATANTS FNL OFFICIALS IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE PRISON. (SOUNDBITE) (French) ANATOLE BACANAMWO, CHIEF FORCES FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION (FNL) DELEGATE OF THE PEACE PROCESS, SAYING "We expected to take 103 prisoners, but we had administrative problems, they only gave us 30 or may be even less." VARIOUS OF TRUCKS TRANSPORTING FNL COMBATANTS/POWS
- Embargoed: 20th January 2009 12:00
- Location: Burundi
- Country: Burundi
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA5J8OY23VV657WN2HZT0SWDPC
- Story Text: Burundi has begun releasing prisoners from the last remaining rebel group in the central African nation as a part of the implementation of a long-delayed peace agreement.
The government said on Friday (December 02) it would releasing 247 prisoners under a presidential decree signed on December 30, last year, officials said.
Analysts say the political and military integration of the rebel Forces for National Liberation (FNL), which sporadically launches attacks, is the last barrier to stability in the coffee-growing nation of eight million people.
Two decades of civil war that killed 300,000 people ended in mid-2006 with a deal between the government and the FNL, whose fighters hold the hills outside the capital Bujumbura.
Mediators led by South Africa have been growing impatient as the deal has not been fully implemented and gave both sides until the end of 2008 to complete agreement, or risk losing regional support.
"We have just begun a very important activity, releasing of these political prisoners of war, the principal reason which pushed us to wait until this moment is that the gathering zone of Rubira or where they were to go after their release especially for the combatants, was not yet ready,"
said General Lazare Nduwayo, the chief government delegate of the peace process.
The Justice Ministry said the decree granted prisoners provisional immunity for political offences committed before the signing of the peace deal, but not against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The rebel group, which is seeking more time to transform itself into a political party as part of the peace deal, said not all the freed prisoners had been handed over to FNL leaders.
"We expected to take 103 prisoners, but we had administrative problems, they only gave us 30 or may be even less," said Antole Bacanamwo, FNL's chief delegate of the peace process.
At a summit of regional leaders last month, President Pierre Nkurunziza committed to releasing all FNL political and war prisoners.
The FNL agreed to send its fighters to assembly areas for disarmament and demobilisation.
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