Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Don't Redraw Africa's Borders

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Don't Redraw Africa's Borders

Article excerpt

Openly defying one of the founding principles of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Tutsis are making the first serious effort to redraw African national boundaries since the Berlin Conference of 1884 divided Africa. Although a minority in each of the five Central African countries in which they live, ethnic Tutsis currently find themselves in power in three of these countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) and are expanding their power base, primarily at the expense of ethnic Hutus, their longtime rivals.

If successful, the Tutsis will alter the geopolitical dynamics of the entire continent. The precedent of ethnic self-determination could result in Africa violently fragmenting into hundreds of nations.

The three Tutsi-led governments all came to power through military coups and are now ambitiously expanding Tutsi influence. They are interlinked through personal ties at the highest levels. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is the ringleader of the Tutsis. The army that brought Mr. Museveni to power in 1986 was primarily Tutsi, though not primarily Ugandan. Museveni is a Hima (the umbrella term for the ethnic group to which Tutsis belong), and many of the Tutsis in his army were Rwandan by nationality, including Paul Kagame, Museveni's chief of military intelligence. With Museveni's help, Mr. Kagame overthrew Rwanda's Hutu government in 1994 and is now Rwanda's vice president, defense minister, and commander of the Rwandan Patriotic Army. With support from Uganda and Rwanda, Maj. Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, overthrew Burundi's Hutu-led government last year and declared himself president. The contiguous nations of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi have been coordinating responses to the refugee crisis in eastern Zaire. When Hutus tried to kick out Zairean Tutsis, all three countries secretly aided their Tutsi brethren. …

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