Burundi Hutus Urge Sanctions

News and Press Release
Originally published
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- World leaders must quickly impose sanctions to force Burundi's military leaders to step down, a Hutu-dominated Burundi political party urged Security Council members on Wednesday.

The sanctions would tighten trade and travel restrictions laid down by neighbors of the central African country after last month's coup by the Tutsi-led military.

The coup ousted the Hutu president and his coalition government, installing Pierre Buyoya in their place.

Buyoya said the military acted to stop violence between the country's minority Tutsis and majority Hutus. The fighting has killed more than 150,000 people in the past three years.

Members of the Hutu-dominated FRODEBU party told an informal Security Council meeting that it would take action by other nations to bring back democracy and stop the bloodshed.

''The stronger and quicker the sanctions are imposed, the quicker they can stop the suffering in our country,'' party president Jean Minani said after the closed meeting.

But members of the Tutsi-dominated UPRONA party argued against sanctions, saying the military regime was an effective one.

Representatives of the two parties met jointly with council members and said they backed dialogue for a political solution in Burundi.

''Even though it was an illegal coup, at least it is a concrete government,'' UPRONA parliament member Adrien Sibomana told reporters.

Barring Burundi's imports would harm people who need food and medicine and might hinder the army's quest to stop fighting between Hutu and Tutsi paramilitary groups, Sibomana said.

Minani, a former health minister, said sanctions would hit the military regime without imposing great hardship on a population in which 85 percent of the people are subsistence farmers. Also, the country suffers less from a lack of medicine than from chaos that prevents its distribution, he said.

Buyoya reportedly is negotiating to enlist Hutus in his new regime. But FRODEBU so far has rebuffed him.

=A9 Copyright 1996 The Associated Press