- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Burundian President Pierre Buyoya yesterday put down the second coup attempt in three months, freeing himself considerably from his own Tutsi extremists to conclude a deal hammered out by Nelson Mandela to bring peace to his bloodied nation.
But the suppression of the soldiers' uprising did nothing to bring to the conference table the two major armed Hutu rebel groups, whose participation is regarded as central to achieving a cease-fire that will hold.
This is the conclusion drawn by private Central Africa watchers in the United States as well as African officials.
"The two major armed rebel forces have neither participated in Mandela's peace gambit, nor have they shown an inclination to bring their rebellion to a negotiated end," a former U.S. government official said.
Rebel Burundian soldiers, who attempted to seize power in the capital of Bujumbura yesterday, surrendered to loyalist soldiers several hours later at two military camps in the countryside, officials said.
"The coup attempt is over and everything is quiet," an army spokesman said.
The attempted coup was intended to block Mr. Buyoya from signing an agreement being concluded yesterday by delegates from five African countries gathered in Arusha, Tanzania.
The accord calls for a cease-fire, an interim government headed by Mr. Buyoya for 18 months and a unnamed successor for the following 18 months.
Free elections would be held in three years.
The participants agreed that the peace process will begin on Nov. 1.
The 8-year-old civil war has consumed 200,000 lives.
Soon after he stepped down as the first president of a black majority-ruled South Africa in 1999, Mr. Mandela took up the cause of seeking peace in Burundi.
Although there are considerable differences between the Tutsi-Hutu struggles in Burundi and similar ethnic confrontations in Rwanda and in the wider stretches of eastern Congo, the disputes are interrelated.
Armed Hutus are fighting government forces in Tutsi-ruled Rwanda and the fighting has spilled across to Congo, becoming the central element in the Congolese civil war that has raged since the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko.
Burundi took part in an invasion of Congo in 1998 led by Uganda and Rwanda to neutralize Hutu militiamen who fled there after Rwanda's 1994 genocide, starting a chaotic regional war.
By bringing one slice of the ethnic conflict to a negotiated end, Mr. Mandela had hoped that this would constitute a major step in regional reconciliation as a whole.
Although the extremists' coup was short-lived, it sent shock waves through the conference in Arusha.
"A coup is a very dangerous thing not only for Burundi but for the whole region," said former Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, a Hutu.
"If violent instability continues in Burundi, it could be the beginning of an apocalyptic situation in our country and we do not want that," he said.
Burundi's armed conflict began in 1993, when the country's first Hutu president was assassinated.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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