Against a historical background of decades-long ethnic hatred and major outbreaks of strife, Burundi's Hutu and Tutsi tribal factions plunged into another bloody power struggle in October 1993. Four months earlier Burundi's Tutsi-led government agreed to hold open presidential elections; predictably, Hutu citizens, who comprise 85 percent of Burundi's population, voted Hutu banker Melchiot Ndadaye (1953-93) into office, making him the first democratically elected president since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1962. Fearful of Hutu domination, Tutsi members of the Tutsi-dominated army assassinated Ndadaye, setting off a cycle of revenge killings that resulted in 50,000 deaths over the next several months, mostly among both Hutu and Tutsi civilians. The fighting created large numbers of refugees; over the next two years 250,000 Burundians, mostly Hutu, escaped to safety in neighboring Zaire (Congo) and Tanzania, countries burdened by 2 million Rwandan Hutus who fled Rwanda after the genocide of Tutsi civilians in the spring of 1994. International pressure was applied once again, and in early 1994 Burundi formed a coalition government. In April 1994 Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira, a Hutu, was killed along with Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane shot down by Hutu extremists.