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Burundi May Soon Bear Witness to Another African Genocide

There may be another genocide coming in Africa, this time in Burundi, and the most frustrating thing about it is that you can’t even pin the blame for it on some monster of wickedness. It’s just the situation. Burundi got a new president recently. On April 30, Domitien Nzayizeye, a member of the Hutu majority, accepted the presidency from Pierre Buyoya, the Tutsi army officer who has ruled the country since 1996. Former South African president Nelson Mandela showed up in person to bless the transfer of power, and a 3,000-strong force is being sent by the African Union to keep the peace. But there is no peace to keep: Last month a hundred rockets rained down on the lakeside capital, Bujumbura, from the hills behind, and the massacres out in the villages continued at about the usual rate. Burundi has a past only slightly less bloody than its twin to the north, Rwanda, where 800,000 members of the Tutsi minority and Hutus thought to be friendly toward them were slaughtered by a Hutu-led extremist government in 1994. It has exactly the same population mix and, just as in Rwanda, the Belgian colonial authorities played a game of divide-and-rule, transforming the traditional patron-client relationship between the pastoral Tutsis and the Hutu farmers into a modern and far nastier system of ethnic privilege. Full Story

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