Burundi: the CNDD-FDD Commits to Respect the Ban on Anti-personnel Landmines and to Cooperate in Mine Action
Geneva – 15 December 2003
The Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD) stated today at a ceremony in Geneva its support for a total ban on anti-personnel mines. This commitment occurs a few weeks after the signing in Dar es Salaam of a power-sharing agreement with the government aimed at ending a decade of civil war.
Geneva Call, together with its local partner, the Independent Centre of Research and Initiative for the Dialogue (CIRID), has been working to secure a CNDD-FDD commitment over the past six months. Though it has recently joined the transitional government, the movement still controls its own troops. This is why this process is important. “The commitment we are making today is the result of efforts made by Geneva Call to raise our awareness of the mine ban norm. It reflects our will to renounce the use of anti-personnel mines and to take in the future all necessary measures to respect and ensure respect for the Ottawa Convention as soon as we become integrated into the new Burundi National Defence Forces” said Hussein Radjabu, General Secretary of the CNDD-FDD. “We are also willing to fully cooperate with mine action organisations to enable them to start clearance and allow those displaced by the war to return safely.”
The government of Burundi also attended the ceremony. As for the Parti pour la Libération du Peuple Hutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (Palipehutu-FNL), which has refused to join the government and continues to fight it, it declared at recent negotiations with Geneva Call its intent to adhere to a total ban on AP mines in the near future.
“These commitments are an important step”, said Geneva Call President, Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey, “because they will facilitate, despite continued fighting, the implementation of mine action programs by the international community and save lives.”
The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva welcomed this act and Mr. Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining stated this will reinforce the prospects for peace in Burundi.
Landmine contamination in Burundi is the product of the ongoing civil war. Although there is no accurate data regarding the exact scope of the problem, it is believed that both the army and rebel groups have used landmines. Since 1993, hundreds of victims from landmine accidents have been recorded. With the implementation of the peace process, the return of large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people may result in a dramatic increase in the number of casualties, which calls for immediate action.
Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging rebel groups in respecting humanitarian norms, starting with a landmine ban. To date, 24 groups in the Philippines, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Burma and India have agreed to ban AP mines under Geneva Call.