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The BBC's Cathy Jenkins in Nairobi
"Many of the wars estimated 200,000 victims have been civilians"
 real 56k

The BBC's Prime Ndikumagenge
"There is some kind of discontent among the population"
 real 28k

Professor Philip Reynchens, Antwerp University
"Fear is the major actor in in the Burundian political environment"
 real 28k

Jerome Ndiko is a spokesman for the Hutu rebels
that President Buyoya had been negotiating with in Libreville
 real 28k

Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Burundi coup attempt 'fails'
Pierre Buyoya
President Buyoya is out of the country meeting Hutu rebels in Gabon
The Burundian army has put down a coup attempt by a group of junior army officers opposed to President Pierre Buyoya's negotiations with Hutu rebels, the defence ministry said.

In a statement read on the independent Bonesha radio, the army said that the 30 junior officers in the Tutsi-dominated army were surrounded inside the studios of state-run Radio Burundi.


The announcement was attributed to Minister of Defence Cyrile Ndayirukiye.

The streets near the radio station in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, have been sealed off, but residents have still been walking calmly around the downtown area discussing the coup attempt.

Waiting for surrender

The statement from the army said that troops would not storm the radio station compound because they did not want to spark any violence, opting instead for waiting until the soldiers surrender.

While all independent radio stations carried the army communique, Radio Burundi broadcast music.

"I knew it was too good too be true," said one Tutsi businessman, speaking with friends near where troops were milling around the radio station.

A group calling itself the Patriotic Youth Front took over the radio station at 1630 (1430 GMT).

Unknown group

After the guard fled, the soldiers played a tape announcing the President Buyoya's removal from office, the dissolution of the National Assembly and closure of the airport.

The statement was attributed to Lieutenant Gaston Ntakarutimana, a commander at the Gakumbo military camp, which is responsible for protecting the airport. The group had never been heard of before.

Mr Buyoya was in Libreville, Gabon, at the time for peace talks with the leader of the main rebel group fighting the government in the country's civil war.

He was in a meeting with South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, when news of the coup was broadcast, a spokesman for Mr Zuma said.

Peace rejected

Mr Buyoya, who himself took power in a coup in July 1996, was scheduled to return to Bujumbura on Wednesday.

More than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Burundi since 1993, when civil war broke out after soldiers from the Tutsi minority killed the first democratically elected president, a Hutu.

A peace accord was signed last August in Arusha, Tanzania, by 19 parties involved in the conflict, but it was rejected by the two rebel movements and fighting has continued.

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See also:

02 Mar 01 | Africa
50,000 flee Burundi fighting
02 Feb 01 | Africa
Burundi hunger crisis warning
26 Feb 01 | Africa
Burundi peace talks fail
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burundi
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