President Rupiah Banda is expected here tomorrow to attend an emergency one day heads of state and government summit on the Burundi peace process.
Mr. Banda, who is expected to arrive at Bujumbura International Airport at about 09:00 hours, will be companied by Minister of Home Affairs, Kalombo Mwansa, Local Government Deputy Minister, Eustarkio Kazonga and other senior government officials.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Professor Royson Mukwena, who is also ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and the Comoros, confirmed this to ZANIS in Bujumbura today.
Professor Mukwena said Mr. Banda will join South African President, Kgalema Motlanthe, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President of Tanzania and African Union Chairperson, Jakaya Kikwete and the host President, Pierre Nkurunziza.
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and President Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo were also invited to attend the summit but they had, by press time, not confirmed their attendance yet.
The one day summit, which will be held at the Hotel Source Du Nil in Bujumbura, has been called by the chairman of the Burundi peace process, Mr. Museveni, who is also the President of Uganda.
The summit is aimed at among other issues, stating the position of the Great Lakes region on the implementation of the peace agreements signed at the Dar es Salaam summit of 2006 in Tanzania.
The Dar es Salaam summit directed the remaining Burundi rebel group, the Pelipehutu Federation for National Liberation (Pelipehutu FNL) to stop its rebellious activities against the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.
It was agreed that President Nkurunziza accommodates some members of the Pelipehutu FNL into various departments of government.
The two parties, President Nkurunziza’s government and the Pelipehutu FNL, have since the 2006 Dar es Salaam summit, not implemented the agreements they signed hence the concern by Great Lakes countries and other mediators.
However, the Pelipehutu FNL leaders, who were in Tanzania and some in the bush within Burundi, started arriving in Bujumbura in May this year, which was a step towards the integration and disarmament process.
Last month, Ministers of Foreign Affairs for Tanzania and Uganda respectively, informed the two warring parties in Burundi that they had a deadline of December 31st, 2008 to resolve their difficulties and implement the agreements.
The parties should complete the assembling and disarmament of the Pelipehutu FNL and accommodation of some of its members into the government departments before the end of this year.
The other issue is that the Pelipehutu FNL should abandon the use of Pelipehutu in their grouping, which seeks to be recognized as a political party in Burundi, because the name, Pelipehutu, has tribal connotations with the Hutu tribe by December 31st this year.
The summit tomorrow is also expected to address difficulties the two parties have been facing in implementing the agreements.
President Banda, who will be backed by Zambia’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Dr. Siteke Mwale, is expected to return to Lusaka in the afternoon after the summit.