Four African nations have agreed to send peacekeeping troops to Burundi, President Pierre Buyoya announced on Wednesday. According to Reuters news agency, he told a press conference in Lusaka, Zambia, that the defence ministers of South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Burundi met in Pretoria last week to prepare for the deployment of troops once a ceasefire was agreed. The mediator, Nelson Mandela, has acknowledged that implementation of the transition period will not coincide with a ceasefire agreement, but he said negotiations were continuing with the FNL and FDD rebel groups.
Buyoya also told the news conference he was aware a “big challenge” lay ahead. A regional summit, due to be held in Arusha, Tanzania on 23 July, will decide on the timeframe for the transition. Buyoya assured reporters he would step down after his 18-month tenure. “It is contained in the document,” he said. “I gave my word of honour and commitment, and I will abide by that.”