INTERNATIONAL

Former rebel leader elected President

BUJUMBURA (BURUNDI): A former Hutu rebel leader was elected Burundi's President on Friday, culminating a three-year peace process after almost 12 years of ethnic war in the central African country. Pierre Nkurunziza appealed for support from all Burundians to meet the challenge of rebuilding the country and its shattered economy, and credited his victory to the sacrifices Burundians made during the war and in the search for peace. ``I am like a small ant on the back of a big elephant. When the elephant does something, the ant rejoices as if the ant himself has done it,'' Mr. Nkurunziza said. His election had had been expected because his Force for the Defence of Democracy, once Burundi's largest Hutu-led rebel group and now a political party, controls both houses of Parliament. Parliament was charged with electing the President under a power-sharing constitution adopted as part of the peace process. Hutu rebels took up arms in 1993 when the country's first democratically elected President, a Hutu, was assassinated by paratroopers from Burundi's minority Tutsi ethnic group. More than 250,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed. Burundi's Tutsi minority had dominated politics since independence from Belgium in 1962. — AP

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