Burundi Finally Blows

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BUJUMBURA, Burundi: Ever since at least 500,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda's ethnic civil war two years ago, diplomats have been watching for similar tensions to boil over in its volatile Central African neighbor, Burundi. Now they have. Wednesday, Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya found himself holed up in the the U.S. embassy after what appeared to be a swift military coup led by ethnic Tutsis, the rival tribe that controls the military. Ntibantunganya, a member of the Hutu tribe, had led an unstable coalition government with the UNPRONA, a Tutsi-led party. "The president was a moderating influence that the international community could rally around," reports TIME's Andrew Purvis. "Now nothing short of foreign military intervention will guarantee peace." Burundi has been beleaguered by a three-year civil war between the majority Hutus and the traditionally ruling minority of Tutsis. So far, more than 150,000 people have died. The U.S ambassador in Burundi has said that the U.S. will not tolerate a government installed by force. Ntibantunganya came to power as a result of a 1994 pact to form a coalition government between the two ethnic groups. -- Lamia Abu-Haidar