Magazine article New African

Unhappy Tutsis. (Burundi)

Magazine article New African

Unhappy Tutsis. (Burundi)

Article excerpt

As we went to press, efforts to bring Burundi's eight-year war to an end appeared to fisher as 35 people were killed in renewed hostilities, just days after a power-sharing transitional government had been installed in the capital, Bujumbura.

Under the agreement brokered by former President Nelson Mandela, Burundi will be ruled alternatively by presidents from the two main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, for 18 months at a time, before general elections are held in three years rime.

But Hutu rebel groups, blamed for the 35 killings in early November, appear to be unhappy with the power sharing arrangement. So are the minority Tutsis who are dead against Mandela's decision to send 700 South African troops to protect the exiled Hutu leaders returning home to participate in the transitional government. The first batch of 240 South African soldiers arrived in Bujumbura on 28 October.

So far, the loudest objection to the South African deployment has come from the leader of the Tutsi Amasekanya militia, Diomede Rutamucero. He has threatened to fight the South African "invasion force".

Rutamucero is no doubt a tough guy. Since he created the Amasekanya (which means "those who stand as rocks") in 1994, this 45-year-old hydrogeology engineer has been jailed at least 14 times and claims to have been tortured by President Pierre Buyoya's police.

In a recent interview with New African in Brussels, Rutamucero said: "We are against this South African occupation of our country. Therefore we ask the peace-loving Burundian people to resist this occupation which violates our national sovereignty.

"In the event of violence, Mandela will be held responsible because he dared send his military to allow these genocide terrorists to get the political power in our country. In such conditions, the survivors of the genocide have no choice but to fight."

He continued:. "We are not frightened by the South African weaponry. Unlike us, they won't stay forever in Burundi. And those who committed the genocide will nor be able to get protection indefinitely. It may last 1,000 years, we may die, but we will pass on the list to our children. Their best protection would be to go before the courts for their crimes.

Many Tutsis, like Rutamucero, claim that Mandela has adopted a staunch pro-Hutu stand, after he appeared to mock President Buyoya as "a leader supported by only 15% of the population" in remarks to the media in Pretoria on 11 October. …

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