Advertisement
  1. Archive

Burundi's leader promises reform

Burundi's new leader pledged Sunday to bring peace by restoring discipline in the Tutsi-led military _ the same army that re-installed him as president and was behind 15,000 Hutu deaths during his last rule.

Pierre Buyoya said he has "never been a hostage of the army" and will be able to control its 20,000 men because they trust him. The 46-year-old Tutsi, a retired army major who took power for a second time in a quiet coup last week, would not outline concrete steps.

"To restore peace and security is first to restore discipline in the military," Buyoya said. "We are going to do all we can to stop the killing. It will not be easy."

Supporters of the coup that ousted Burundi's weak, ethnically mixed coalition government say Buyoya (pronounced boo-YO-yah) will be able to control the army and police. Under Buyoya's previous rule, however, the army killed 15,000 Hutus, mostly civilians, in nationwide massacres in 1988.

Since late 1993, after Buyoya left office the first time, at least 150,000 people have died as Hutus have taken up arms against Tutsi soldiers and Tutsi extremist militiamen, who have killed Hutu civilians to clear them from once ethnically mixed areas of this Central African nation.

Hutus are in the majority _ 85 percent of Burundi's 6-million people _ but Tutsis historically have controlled the military and, therefore, the country. Burundi is 14 percent Tutsi.

Buyoya said the army also will not force any more Rwandan refugees to return home. Earlier this month, it rounded up thousands of refugees in northern camps, forced them on trucks at gunpoint and sent them across the border.

"Our government will respect international laws, including the protection of the refugees on our soil," Buyoya said.

Buyoya's greatest challenge may be controlling Hutu rebels, who have vowed to step up their fight.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement