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BBC: Burundi Government Trying To Reassert Itself

October 27, 1993

LONDON (AP) _ The government of Burundi, still taking refuge in the French Embassy, appears to be reasserting itself after last week’s coup, reports said Tuesday.

The country’s prime minister, Sylvie Kinigi, said those responsible for the current chaos in the tiny central African nation would be severely punished, according to a report from a radio station in neighboring Rwanda, monitored by the BBC.

President Melchior Ndadaye and at least four top aides were killed in Thursday’s uprising by dissident elements of the armed forces.

Since the coup, Burundi has been torn by ethnic violence between the minority Tutsis and the majority Hutus and hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries.

The uprising’s leaders belong to the Tutsi tribe while Ndadaye was a Hutu.

The BBC’s correspondent in Burundi reported that it was not clear how much of the army, which is dominated by Tutsis, took part in the coup. But many army units are now trying to distance themselves from it, the correspondent said.

Radio Rwanda said Prime Minister Kinigi called on the army Tuesday to end the killing of civilians and return to barracks.

She said she was annulling all measures taken by the military following the coup, and said Burundi’s borders and Bujumbura International Airport would be opened in the near future, the radio said.

But Burundi Justice Minister Fulgence Bakana, who is in the Rwandan capital Kigali, told Radio Rwanda that no date for those actions could be set since the Burundi government did not control the military.

Ndadaye, 40, a former banker, became Burundi’s first freely elected leader in June. He was the first Hutu to lead the country since independence from Belgium in 1962.

Burundi officials in Rwanda last week said the uprising was masterminded by former President Jean Baptiste Bagaza and led by the army’s chief of staff Col. Jean Bikomagu.

Kinigi and seven other high-ranking members of the government, including Defense Minister Charles Ntakije, took refuge in the French embassy when the uprising took place.

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