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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Burundi: Recent Documents
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
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Burundi: Recent Documents
Date Distributed (ymd): 960515

Mennonite Central Committee


After ten months of living in Bujumbura and talking to both
Hutu and Tutsi mid-level leaders, I am more and more convinced
that the greatest contribution the international community can
make in Burundi, greater than humanitarian aid, greater than
development aid, is to move the political leaders toward

Currently hard-liners on both sides, but particularly those
from the opposition political parties, refuse to negotiate.
On the one hand, some rebel leaders say that they can never
negotiate until those responsible for President Ndadaye's
death are brought to trial.  On the other hand, Tutsi military
and Uprona party leaders (including the Prime Minister) refuse
to negotiate with those rebels who they claim are advocating

An armed solution to the conflict would not be a true
solution.  On the one hand, if the current government remains
in power, the situation for the Hutus remains untenable
because they have limited access to university training and to
positions of authority, and because their safety is not
guaranteed as long as minority youth gangs ("Sans Echec") are
allowed to act with impunity.  And the current death toll of
perhaps 100/week will likely continue.  On the other hand,
military victory by the opposition militia groups, unless
rebel leaders act with unusual restraint and wisdom, would
likely lead to massacres and flight of the Tutsi population,
especially when the Tutsis remember the events that took place
in Rwanda.

Consequently, a negotiated settlement that guarantees to both
ethnic groups true power-sharing, representation, and access
to the army is surely essential.  If the armed conflict
continues, yet another generation of young people will become
adults in an environment that expects impunity, flouts
authority, considers human life cheap, does not respect
differences, and values cruelty.

The international community needs to demonstrate the strongest
possible support for the mediation efforts of Mwalimu Julius
Nyerere.  He has the moral authority to bring people together,
and the respect of all parties.  (Other mediation efforts are
in the beginning stages as well and deserve support.  For
example, an initiative undertaken by protestant church leaders
is also under way to contact influential people on both sides
of the conflict.  It is possible that the Church would be
accepted as a mediator in this convoluted struggle.)

I call upon the international community to find creative ways
of encouraging the antagonists to come to the table, by
cajoling, using personal contacts, promising rewards,
threatening sanctions of various kinds, bringing media
attention to individuals, pushing for a trial for those
suspected of involvement in the coup attempt in 1993, and in
a variety of other ways.

For example, international actors could:

1) publicly support the mediation efforts of President

2) send high-level delegations to talk privately with leaders
of all sides,

3) in those private talks, offer a neutral venue for
negotiations, guarantee safe-conduct and good offices, and
explore ways of bringing to justice those involved in the 1993

4) threaten limited, personal sanctions such as freezing
personal assets and refusing to grant travel visas to leaders
if they do not agree to negotiate within a given time period.

I implore the appropriate actors to give wholehearted support
to discovering ways to encourage, facilitate and demand a
mediated settlement to the conflict in Burundi.

Dr. Lauren W. YODER
Mennonite Central Committee
May 5, 1996

For more information please be in touch with Judy Zimmerman
Herr, MCC Peace Office, Mennonite Central Committee, Box 500,
Akron, PA 17501, USA; tel: 717-859-1151; fax: 717-859-2171; e-

United Nations Security Council


25 April 1996
Press Release: SC/6213

Deeply concerned at the widespread purchase and use of weapons
by Burundians and at reported statements calling for the
arming of civilians, the Security Council this afternoon
called on all Burundians to renounce the use of violence and
engage in a comprehensive dialogue to ensure a peaceful

Through a statement read out by its President, Juan Somavia
(Chile), the Council urged the authorities and all parties in
Burundi to demonstrate the necessary unity and political will
to settle the conflict peacefully. It condemned all acts of
violence and expressed deep concern, in particular, at the
laying of land-mines.

The Council was deeply concerned at the recent degeneration of
security conditions and political cooperation in the country.
It stated that the dramatic increase in violence had already
severely inhibited humanitarian aid and could have a negative
effect on donors' capacity to implement development

In view of the current situation, the Council asked the
Secretary- General to expedite consultations with the
Organization of African Unity (OAU) and concerned Member
States on contingency planning, as appropriate. Such talks
would focus both on supporting a comprehensive dialogue, as
well as on a rapid humanitarian response in the event of
widespread violence or a serious deterioration of the
humanitarian situation.

The Council extended its full support for efforts by the
Secretary- General's Special Representative, former President
Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania, and other
envoys to facilitate negotiations to end the current crisis.
It looked forward to the recommendations to be submitted by
the Secretary-General on progress towards commencement of the
national debate and other initiatives aimed at promoting
dialogue and national reconciliation.

Text of President Statement

The statement, which will be issued as document S/1996/21,
reads as follows:

"The Security Council has taken note of the letter dated 12
April 1996 from the Secretary-General to the President of the
Council on the present situation in Burundi (S/1996/313), in
response to the request to the Secretary-General in resolution
1049 (1996) to keep the Council informed on the situation.

"The Security Council is deeply concerned at the recent
degeneration of security conditions and political cooperation
in Burundi. The Council condemns all acts of violence. The
Council is equally concerned at reported statements calling
for the arming of civilians which could lead to grave
consequences. The dramatic increase in violence throughout the
country already severely inhibits humanitarian aid and could
have a negative effect on the donors' capacity to implement
development assistance in support of the search by the people
of Burundi for reconciliation and rehabilitation.

"The Security Council urges the authorities and all parties in
Burundi to set aside their differences and demonstrate the
necessary cohesion, unity and political will for settlement of
the conflict by peaceful means. The Council calls upon all
Burundians to renounce the use of violence and to engage in a
comprehensive dialogue to ensure a peaceful future for the
people of Burundi.

"The Security Council is deeply concerned at the widespread
purchase and use of weapons by Burundians, in particular the
laying of land-mines.

"The Security Council looks forward to the recommendations of
the Secretary-General in the report which it requested by 1
May 1996 on the progress towards commencement of the National
Debate and other initiatives for comprehensive political
dialogue and national reconciliation. The Council extends its
full support for and confidence in the efforts of the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General, and those of former
President Nyerere and other envoys to facilitate negotiations
to resolve the present crisis.

"The Security Council requests the Secretary-General, in
accordance with paragraph 13 of resolution 1049 (1996), to
expedite consultations with Member States concerned and the
Organization of African Unity, as appropriate, on contingency
planning both for the steps that might be taken to support a
comprehensive dialogue and for a rapid humanitarian response
in the event of widespread violence or serious deterioration
in the humanitarian situation in Burundi.

"The Security Council underlines its commitment to follow
events in Burundi closely and resolves to consider further all
relevant options for an appropriate response by the
international community upon receipt of the impending report
of the Secretary-General." Security Council

The meeting, which was called to order at 12:31 p.m., was
adjourned at 12:37 p.m.

Letter from Secretary-General

"I fear that there is a real danger of the situation in
Burundi degenerating to the point where it might erupt into a
genocidal conflict", the Secretary-General states in a 4 April
letter to the President of the Council (document S/1996/313).
In that letter, he passes on the "alarming information"
received from his Special Representative.

According to the Secretary-General, the security situation in
Burundi took another turn for the worse during March. There
was a sharp increase in the number of attacks by Hutu rebels.
Heavy fighting, formerly concentrated in the northern part of
the country, had spread to areas in the south which had been
untouched by conflict. It was estimated that there might now
be a few thousand rebels in that part of the country.
Meanwhile, the interruption of fishing in Lake Tanganyika --
causing supply problems in the capital -- demonstrated the
determination of the armed forces to stop the movement of
rebels to and from Zaire.

Serious differences had appeared between the President and the
Prime Minister regarding negotiations with the armed
opposition, the report states. While the President favours
negotiations if the rebels give up violence, the Prime
Minister has opposed any negotiations and invited the Tutsi
community to arm itself. According to reports, arms have
recently been distributed to civilians in Bujumbura and
elsewhere. The situation has deteriorated to the point that
senior parliamentarians have expressed concern that the armed
forces might engage in reprisals against the Hutu population
still living in Bujumbura and its suburbs.

The Secretary-General cites the latest report of the Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, which speaks of
a "creeping genocide". The ongoing effort of Tanzania's former
President Julius Nyerere are taking place in a very tense
environment and it will soon be known whether there is any
chance of starting the envisaged dialogue. The European Union
and the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) have stressed to Burundi's leadership that economic
assistance would not be forthcoming while the political and
security situations remain unstable. In response, the Prime
Minister has disclaimed Burundi's need for foreign aid.

4-10 May 1996 (Excerpts)

# Burundi Prime Minister Antoine Nduwayo launched a civil
defence plan on Friday which he said `seeks to organise and
protect the Burundi population from criminals'. The plan had
previously been opposed by the parliamentary majority party,
FRODEBU. Nduwayo, who announced the plan last month and called
for the arming of Burundi civilians, said that the Army would
be increased by mobilizing reserve soldiers. There are reports
that some arms and ammunition have already been distributed to

# Two new Governors were appointed last week for Gitega and
Karuzi provinces. The new Governor for Gitega is a civilian,
the other is an army officer - Burundi's fifth military
provincial governor. The appointments came after two meetings
of Burundi's National Security Council and several weeks of
negotiations between the two main political parties.

# Investigations are continuing into allegations that the
Burundi army and/or Tutsi militia killed approximately 235
civilians in Buhoro, Gitega on 26 April and were involved in
another massacre in Kivyuka in Bubanza province on 3 May.
Military authorities have confirmed that there was a
confrontation between the Army and armed gangs in Buhoro, but
have declined to comment on any incident in Kivyuka. Many Hutu
officials are reported to have left Gitega town as a result of
attacks against their residences. Four schools are also said
to have been attacked by unknown assailants.

In the latest series of violence, the Army has accused Hutu
rebels of killing six of their own people and wounding an
unknown number in an overnight attack on a displaced persons'
camp in the capital, Bujumbura. A Defence Ministry spokesman
said that the attack was carried out on Wednesday night on the
Johnson Centre, run by American Baptist missionaries. The
attack coincided with the visit of US Special Envoy, Richard
Bogosian, who began talks on Wednesday with Burundi Government
officials and leaders of the Army on human rights issues and
the alleged recent massacres. Another US diplomat, John
Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human
Rights and Labour was scheduled to visit Burundi at the
weekend. Some 3,000 Burundians are reported to have fled to
Zaire in the recent waves of violence, bringing the number of
Burundians crossing into Zaire since April to 13,000. Pope
John Paul appealed earlier in the week for a negotiated end to
the violence in Burundi.

# Zairian Vice Prime Minister Jean Marie Kititwa was expected
in Burundi on Sunday for talks with the government aimed at
easing tensions between the two countries. Burundi has accused
Zaire of sheltering and providing supplies to Hutu guerrillas.
Rising tension has led to the closure of the Burundi-Zaire

# UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali urged member
states on Tuesday to make plans for a standby force for
Burundi in case of further deterioration into ethnic violence.
In a report to the Security Council the Secretary-General said
that states had expressed readiness in principle to consider
providing such assistance, but none of them has yet
volunteered to take the lead in planning, deploying and
commanding the operation. Planning for a multinational force
was beyond the capacity of the UN Secretariat, he said. The US
Government, which has offered help with logistics, said that
the UN should start the planning rather than wait for member
countries. A team from Washington is due to visit New York to
discuss and step up the contingency plans. A press release
issed by the opposition CNDD strongly argued that the
international community should not intervene militarily in
Burundi unless it did so as a neutral mediator between all
parties to the conflict and stated that any international
effort outside of such guidelines would be " energetically
fought by the Burundian people".

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-> taken  to reflect the views of the United Nations or its
-> agencies.
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-> e-mail: for more information

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Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and
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