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Rwanda President sacks Hutu PM

Kigali (AFP) - Rwanda's Hutu Prime Minister was sacked yesterday, a move likely further to complicate the difficult repatriation of 2 million refugees living in squalid camps in neighbouring countries. It also throws the government, which is dominated by Tutsis but includes moderate Hutus, into turmoil.

News of the unexpected departure of Faustin Twagiramungu came from the Information Minister, Jean-Baptiste Nkuliyingoma. A spokesman for the President, Pasteur Bizimungu, said later that the Prime Minister had been dismissed.

Emmanuel Gasana, the presidential chief of staff, said the Prime Minister had been fired by the President in a move approved by parliament. In a speech to MPs, the President accused the Prime Minister of failing to co-ordinate the work of government ministries and called for his removal, Mr Gasana said. Fifty-five members of the 61-seat parliament had backed the President's call, he said.

Hutu refugees who fled at the end of last year's civil war, won by the Tutsi-led rebel army, are still frightened to return, fearing retribution for the slaughter of more than 500,000 men, women and children

Zairean troops rounded up 13,000 refugees from camps in eastern Zaire last week and then trucked them to the border. The expulsions ended on Thursday after intercession by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the same time as 2,000 Burundian Hutu refugees were also sent back home. Since then, fewer than 500 refugees have taken up a UN appeal to return voluntarily, raising fears of a return to forcible expulsions.

Only about 150 refugees, from three camps near the Zairean border town of Goma, volunteered to return on Monday, a day when UN officials had hoped to repatriate 3,000.