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Burundi

Pierre Nkurunziza’s 2015 re-election for a third, unconstitutional term sparked a political and economic crisis marked by violent repression and deteriorated living conditions, pushing over 400,000 Burundians to flee the country. Evariste Ndayishimiye’s May 2020 election as Burundi’s new president has so far not lead to major political and economic changes, but he has reached out to regional and international actors, partly ending the country’s insularity, and thousands of those who fled following the 2015 crisis have returned. Through field-based research and engagement with government and foreign actors, Crisis Group aims to alert policymakers to the risk of ethnic polarisation. We advocate for respect of the 2000 Arusha agreement and renewed engagement with the Burundian authorities, conditional on respect for human rights, a functioning opposition and civil society, and independent media. 

CrisisWatch Burundi

Unchanged Situation

Authorities clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels near Rwandan border and unidentified assailants staged deadly ambush in centre. In Cibitoke province’s Mabayi commune, near Rwandan border, Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels 5 June ambushed armed forces, injuring four; armed forces next day killed eight rebels and wounded several others; authorities 11 June arrested 14 people, including two local chiefs and three members of ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure for allegedly collaborating with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group. In Muramvya province’s Rutegama commune in country’s centre, unidentified armed men 26 June reportedly killed at least 15 people and wounded nine in ambush on two vehicles. In Rumonge province, unidentified assailants 2, 7 and 28 June vandalised main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) offices in Muhuta commune; CNL accused ruling party CNDD-FDD. Ntahangwa court of appeal late June announced 32-year prison sentence for human rights activist Germain Rukuki reduced to one-year imprisonment; Rukuki had been detained since 2018. Meanwhile, govt 16 June lifted sanctions on Ikiriho website and BBC media outlet, respectively shut since Oct 2018 and March 2019; several media outlets however remain suspended including Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Télé Renaissance, Inzamba and Voice of America. Head of EU delegation to Burundi 21 June met President Ndayishimiye in economic capital Bujumbura ahead of 24 June round of talks with govt, announced EU’s intent to start process of aid resumption after govt submitted satisfactory roadmap of reforms; EU had suspended direct financial aid to govt in 2016 over violations of Cotonou Agreement.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

29 Jul 2020
We should not expect spectacular reversals. Ndayishimiye is himself a product of the CNDD-FDD system and… must ensure the loyalty of the executives who were not necessarily in favour of his designation. The New Humanitarian

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
8 Jul 2020
This could be a first sign that [Ndayishimiye] will be able to take decisions that will not blindly follow in his predecessor's steps. Deutsche Welle

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
20 Aug 2019
[In Burundi] the government is pushing back on international pressure, trying to convince international actors that everything is alright. Meanwhile, its population is suffering in silence. The New Humanitarian

Nelleke van de Walle

Deputy Project Director, Central Africa
7 Nov 2016
Mobile phones and social media maintain a link between many of Burundi’s constituent parts that appear steadily more remote and disconnected: the diaspora and the refugee camps, capital city and rural areas, Burundi and the rest of the world. The Guardian

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
11 Oct 2016
The only thing that's important now, the only card to play at the moment, is to try and convince the neighbouring countries to put pressure on Burundi [to end the escalating violence]. RFI

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
23 Sep 2016
Le discours de Bujumbura est un piège qui se referme sur lui. Iwacu

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa

Latest Updates

Commentary / Africa

De-escalating Tensions in the Great Lakes

President Tshisekedi’s plans for joint operations with DR Congo’s belligerent eastern neighbours against its rebels risks regional proxy warfare. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage diplomatic efforts in the region and Tshisekedi to shelve his plan for the joint operations.

Briefing / Africa

Averting Proxy Wars in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes

Three Great Lakes states – Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – are trading charges of subversion, each accusing another of sponsoring rebels based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Outside powers should help the Congolese president resolve these tensions, lest a lethal multi-sided melee ensue.

Also available in Français, Português
Op-Ed / Africa

AU Heads of State Summit needs to whip Nkurunziza back into line

African heads of state should press Burundi to open the political space, in particular letting opposition politicians campaign freely and safely and allowing in international observers, in order to prevent a reprise of past violence or worse.

Originally published in The East African

Report / Africa

Running Out of Options in Burundi

Talks about ending Burundi’s crisis – sparked by the president’s decision to seek a third term – have fizzled out. With elections nearing in 2020, tensions could flare. Strong regional pressure is needed to begin opening up the country’s political space before the balloting.

Also available in Français
Commentary / Africa

Eight Priorities for the African Union in 2019

In 2019, the African Union faces many challenges, with conflicts old and new simmering across the continent. To help resolve these crises – our annual survey lists seven particularly pressing ones – the regional organisation should also push ahead with institutional reforms.

Also available in Français

Our People

Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
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