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Africa 2006,

The simple version of history has the Tutsi (Nilotic) cattle breeders arriving in the area from the 15th Century and subjugating the Hutu inhabitants. In reality, the situation is much more complex as boundaries of race and class became less distinct over the years as a result of intermingling. Some put part of the blame for the racial animosity that led to the recent mass-scale killings on the shoulders of German and Belgian colonial rulers who pitched the Hutu against Tutsi for their own gain. When Burundi and neighboring Rwanda were incorporated into German East Africa in 1899, they had been kingdoms for several centuries headed by mwamis (kings). After Germany's defeat in World War I these nations were transferred to Belgium under the joint name of Ruanda-Urundi. They were, however, "separated at birth" when they gained their independence in 1962. In 1972, after an abortive coup attempt, between 200,000 and 400,000 Hutus were killed in Burundi and about 200,000 fled the country. Following democratic elections in 1993, a Hutu assumed the presidency for the first time. He was assassinated shortly afterwards by the Tutsi-dominated army. Ultimately in 1995, the Hutu-led Front pour la démocratie au Burundi (Front for the Democracy in Burundi) (FRODEBU) and the Tutsi-dominated opposition Union pour le progrès national (Union of National Progress) (UPRONA), formed a coalition government under the Hutu president, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, but unrest continued. By mid-1996 an estimated 150,000 had perished. In September 1996, Major Pierre Buyoya, a former Tutsi president, staged a coup, toppled the Hutu-run government and assumed the leadership. In accordance with a transition agreement Buyoya stepped down as president after 18 months in favor of his Hutu deputy, Domitien Ndayizeye, in May 2003. After winning the July 2005 election the victorious Hutu-dominated Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie- Forces pour la defense de la democratie (CNDDFDD) swept their leader, Pierre Nkurunziza, into power as president.