Rwanda: Coup Rumors


March 12, 2006: The last active rebel group in Burundi, the FNL, have finally agreed to revive stalled peace talks. The FNL itself is split into factions, some of which are not willing to stop fighting. The FNL is one of seven Hutu rebel groups that opposed any government that included minority Tutsi. The better organized and more militarily effective Tutsi, had long dominated the majority Hutu.

March 10, 2006: A potential coup against the Burundian government was discovered by Burundi's intelligence service, the Service de Renseignement. UN ceasefire monitors in Burundi had feared a "backlash" by Tutsis in the Burundian Army against President Pierre Nkurunziza's government. In that sense, the coup talk reported March 7 and March 8 wasn't a surprise. Burundi's government remains very fragile. It relies on the presence of peacekeeping forces and the cooperation of several Hutu and Tutsis factions. If the intelligence service "cracked the coup" as reported, that has to be an encouraging signal. Nkurunziza has argued the majority Burundians are tired of war. He's right. However, the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) have not joined the peace process, and "old guard" Tutsi officers in the military do not support democracy because it means Tutsis can no longer dominate the majority Hutus.

March 9, 2006: Nepal reported that a 225 troop "army team" had departed for peacekeeping duties in Burundi

March 8, 2006: At least three senior Burundian military officers are believed to be part of a coup plot to overthrow the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza. Senior national police officials may also be involved in the coup planning. The Burundi Army remains dominated by Tutsis. Nkurunziza is a Hutu. Since August 2005 he has led a "national unity" government with the support of the majority Hutus as well as key Tutsi politicians. Nkurunziza was also a key leader in the Hutu rebel group, the Forces for Defense of Democracy.

February 15, 2006: The Burundi government reported a firefight near the capital city, Bujunbura. Five members of the Forces for national Liberation (FNL) rebel group died in the clash. One Burundi Army soldier was killed.


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