Burundi's new rulers say will survive sanctions
Central and East African leaders agreed at a summit in Tanzania on Wednesday to impose a total but undefined embargo to force ethnic Tutsi strongman Major Pierre Buyoya to return the country to civilian rule. He took power when the army threw out Hutu president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya last week.
The day after the decision, none of the details had been released and Buyoya's new prime minister, Pascal Firmin Ndimira, said his government would survive boycotts.
"There are (some states) who even if they don't tell it so loudly understand our position. We can survive without killing ourselves," Ndimira said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Ndimira, an ethnic Hutu who was appointed prime minister on Wednesday, said the military government would talk to Hutu rebels if they gave up their weapons.
Belgium said sanctions were premature and other action should be considered to end the crisis in the former Belgian protectorate.
"Once you start with economic sanctions you will have the country on its knees in a couple of days. Burundi is already so fragile and this could cause more violence," said Foreign Minister Erik Derycke on a visit to the United States.
There was no reaction from the United States which has led international pressure to stop the killings in Burundi for the past six months.
Buyoya, who says he is more of a democrat than others in the troubled state, has tried to persuade the world that his coup aimed to end ethnic strife which has killed 150,000 people in the past three years.
By Thursday morning Burundi's state radio still had not reported the Arusha decision to impose the sanctions.
Buyoya and Ndimira have yet to announce the compsotion government but so far they have failed to recruit a single mainstream Hutu politician.
Analysts say sanctions would have to target Burundi's coffee and tea industry, already wrecked by fierce fighting between the Tutsi-led army and Hutu rebels. An embargo would also need to cut off oil imports and transport links with the landlocked country if it were to be effective, they said.
Regional leaders said they would sever air links but Air Burundi's flight to Nairobi was still expected on Thursday.
"I have heard nothing at all, we are still in the dark. We have not been informed of any cancellation," the two-aircraft airline's manager in Kenya, Jeff Rwabu, told Reuters.
Derycke had held talks on Burundi with U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and senior U.S. officials, but wanted further discussions with African leaders and his government.
The leaders at the summit in Tanzania studied a possible military action plan but decided on sanctions as a first step.
Deposed President Ntibantunganya remains in hiding inside the U.S. ambassador's residence in Bujumbura where he took refuge last week and his hosts says he is being prevented from leaving by the colonels who toppled him.
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said his country and neighbouring Kenya, the routes from Burundi to the sea, would take the lead in policing sanctions.
The coup came after months of fear that the country might follow the path of its northern neighbour Rwanda, where about a million people were killed in civil war and genocidal massacres in 1994.
Both countries have the same explosive
ethnic mix -- 85 percent of the population is made up of Hutus, with Tutsis
about 14 percent.
For more humanitarian news and analysis, please visit www.trust.org/alertnet