Burundi still a powder keg as an exodus of refugees wanes

IN attempted exodus of some 50,000 Rwandan refugees from Burundi has been halted, but the country's crisis is far from over, diplomats and officials say.

Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya has begun a nationwide campaign to calm tensions that led to the flow of mainly Hutu refugees last week after at least 150 people were killed in ethnic violence in the capital, Bujumbura.

Burundi's majority Hutus and minority Tutsis periodically have slaughtered each other by the hundreds of thousands over the last 30 years. The country has teetered on the brink of ethnic violence on a similar scale to Rwanda's since Tutsi troops killed President Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, in October 1993. Last week's killings in Bujumbura happened when Tutsi gangs forced Hutus out of the two neighborhoods in the capital as part of their plan to turn Bujumbura into an entirely Tutsi enclave.

''The presence of 200 foreign journalists in Bujumbura is keeping things relatively calm for the moment, because the people behind the violence don't want to be seen,'' a diplomat says.

Aid officials and diplomats say the refugee problem was at best only postponed.

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