The UN Security Council is discussing Secretary-General Kofi Annan's suggestion that 5,650 UN peacekeepers should be deployed in Burundi, to take over for 2,523 African Union peacekeepers and 43 military observers, whose mission there ends in April. Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved a $84.17-million credit to help the transitional government return former combatants to civilian life and rebuild the country's road infrastructure battered by ten years of civil war.
The biggest problem remains the FNL rebel movement, which refuses to come to an agreement with the new coalition government. At least 10 rebels and three civilians were killed in skirmishing between the FNL and government units on the 17th, at a refugee camp west of the capital. Thousands of civilians panicked and took to the roads.
Other rebel groups have found room for compromise. Around 200 former CNDD-FDD rebels arrived in a training camp in the southwestern province of Bururi on the 16th, where they are due to undergo training as a unit of the new National Defence Forces of Burundi. A total of 800 government and 400 CNDD-FDD would begin six months of training to form the Special Unit for the Protection of Institutions (which would replace the Unit for the Security of Institutions, as the integrated national army takes shape). South African troops are due to take part in the training of the new unit in Bururi.
The CNDD-FDD signed a power-sharing agreement with the transitional government of Burundi on 16 November 2003 and 40 percent of the new army's general staff are former CNDD-FDD officers. - Adam Geibel