Tutsi Opposition Threatens Government

News and Press Release
Originally published
BUJUMBURA, Burundi (Pana) - The chairman of the Unity for National Progress (Uprona) led by Charles Mukasi said Monday in Bujumbura that the party has decided to withdraw its support for President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya.
"I cannot publicly here tell you the methods considered by my party on the issue, but trust me, it is just a matter of days", he told thousands of angry students demonstrating at the party headquarters over the murder of 30 people (Tutsi) by Hutu militia at the week-end.

Hundreds of people sustained injuries, some serious, in the raid on Saturday by the Hutu militias, according to hospital sources.

The students' representative, Oscar Nyandwi, in an interview, said Uprona "must withdraw its support to president Ntibantunganya and force him to leave".

"It is the present head of state who is responsible for the insecurity currently prevailing in the country. At least he has proven himself to be incapable of restoring peace and security", Nyandwi said.

Analysts say opposition to the authority of the president and the prime minister poses a serious threat to the 1994 pact signed by all parties, and which has so far made it possible to run public institutions in a country bristling with ethnic hatred.

On Sunday, Uprona urged "followers, friendly political parties and all Burundians" to observe three days of mourning starting Monday, for the people killed in the raid.

Uprona also accused the ruling Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) led by President Sylvestre Bantunganya, a Hutu, of complicity in the massacres.

However, the government has since declared one week of national mourning in memory of the 304 victims.

In March, humanitarian organisations reported the killing of 300 civilians in operations launched by the regular army, at Mutoyi near Bugendana. Some suspect Saturday's killings were a revenge.

The escalation of violence comes at a time when the international community is supporting the initiative by Burundi's neighbours to send troops to the country for possible intervention should violence erupt.

Burundi has been torn by a war between the majority Hutu population and the minority Tutsi, who nonetheless, control the army, since the assassination in October 1993 of President Melchior Ndadaye (a Hutu) in an aborted military coup.

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