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Burundi

President Nkurunziza’s April 2015 decision to run for a third, unconstitutional term sparked a wave of opposition and violent repression. His subsequent re-election in July 2015 has turned unrest into a low-intensity conflict that shows little sign of resolution. In this context, the economy and public finance are under stress and living conditions for Burundians have deteriorated. Over 400,000 Burundians have fled the country, while political and ethnic polarisation are affecting the integrity of the army. Through field-based research in Burundi and neighbouring countries, and engagement with both government and foreign actors, Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of civil war, mass atrocities and a regional proxy conflict. We advocate for a credible, internationally-mediated national dialogue and a return to inclusive constitutional rule.

CrisisWatch Burundi

Unchanged Situation

Ahead of presidential elections in May, ruling party CNDD-FDD chose Evariste Ndayishimiye as its candidate, and its youth wing alongside authorities continued to harass main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL). At CNDD-FDD congress in capital Gitega 26 Jan, delegates chose party’s sec gen Ndayishimiye over national assembly president Pascal Nyabenda, both nominated by President Nkurunziza, to be party’s presidential candidate. Parliament 21 Jan passed law that will grant Nkurunziza villa, around $530,000 and status of “supreme leader” when he vacates presidency. CNDD-FDD youth wing, Imbonerakure, 4 Jan beat CNL member’s father in Mwaro province; 5 Jan attempted to kill CNL member in Kirundo province reportedly for refusing to join CNDD-FDD. Imbonerakure and authorities 6-29 Jan arrested at least fifteen CNL members in Mwaro, Gitega and Makamba and Muyinga provinces. Local residents in Cibitoke province night of 30-31 Jan beat three Imbonerakure suspected of theft; one died 31 Jan. Authorities 16-20 Jan detained journalist who reported on mismanagement of public funds in Karusi province. National Intelligence Service 8-13 Jan arrested three members of two teachers’ unions, including presidents of both, after they protested against withholding of portion of teachers’ wages; authorities 21 Jan released two presidents. High Court of Bubanza 30 Jan sentenced four journalists arrested in Oct to two and a half years in prison. European Parliament 16 Jan adopted resolution condemning human rights violations against opposition and press, calling on authorities to investigate arbitrary arrests, beatings and killings, and calling for extension of EU sanctions and imposition of UN Security Council sanctions. Rwanda 8 Jan said it was prepared to engage in talks to normalise relations with Burundi.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
23 Sep 2016
C’est toujours la même rhétorique que le régime utilise comme réponse quand il est mis en cause à Genève, New York ou Addis-Abeba Iwacu

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa
18 Aug 2016
Le régime burundais est en grande difficulté. Et le problème des gouvernements qui arrivent à bout d’arguments, c’est que ça mène à de plus en plus de violence. La Presse

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.

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

Soutenir la population burundaise face à la crise économique

Au Burundi, le déclin de l’économie exacerbe le risque de violence. L’Union européenne et ses Etats membres, qui ont suspendu leur aide directe au gouvernement, doivent redoubler d’efforts pour que leur soutien bénéficie à la population.  

Also available in English
Op-Ed / Africa

AU Must Re-engage in Burundi to Push for Inclusivity as a Way out of Violence

The constitutional changes, if passed, could reset the clock on term limits for President Pierre Nkurunziza — potentially giving him an additional 14 years in power — and paving the way for the dismantling of ethnic balances embedded in the 2000 Arusha Agreement, which brought an end to Burundi’s protracted civil war. 

Originally published in The East African

Also available in Français
Commentary / Africa

Burundi’s Dangerous Referendum

On 17 May 2018, Burundians vote on constitutional amendments that would prolong the rule of President Pierre Nkurunziza, dismantle a carefully negotiated Hutu-Tutsi ethnic balance, and ultimately could lead to instability. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 – First Update early warning report, Crisis Group urges European policy makers to explore channels for pressuring the government, and African leaders to renew mediation attempts between the regime and opposition.

Also available in Français