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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

Fighting again flared between military and rebels in eastern DRC and coalition of opposition parties in exile continued to collapse. Seventeen people reportedly killed in Kaberagure, Uvira territory in eastern DRC near Burundian border 16 Jan in fighting between, on one side, rebels including from RED-TABARA and National Liberation Forces (FNL) groups backed by local Mai-Mai militants and, on other, army and ruling party’s Imbonerakure youth wing backed by different Mai-Mai militants. Grenade attack in bar in capital Bujumbura 27 Jan wounded at least eight people. Govt 8 Jan confirmed its refusal to dialogue with opposition politicians it accuses of orchestrating 2015 coup attempt and asked member states of regional bloc East African Community to extradite them to Burundi. Four opposition parties and former first VP Frederic Bamvuginyumvira withdrew from coalition of opposition parties in exile CNARED Giriteka throughout month blaming coalition’s presidency for diverting from platform’s main mission, namely reestablishment of 2005 constitution and 2000 Arusha peace agreement. Ahead of 2020 general elections, leaders of nineteen parties (33 are recognised by law) analysed draft law amending electoral code in Gitega 4 Jan; opposition parties not invited. Some politicians criticised limited time available and called meeting “façade”. Proposed amendments roughly tripled presidential candidates’ deposit and stipulated that independent parliamentary candidates would have to win at least 40% of votes in their constituencies to be elected. Govt 3 Jan said 84 of 130 foreign NGOs previously operating in country had registered before 31 Dec deadline and fulfilled new conditions including ethnic quota for staff; some NGOs that reject conditions began to leave.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

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

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

Thierry Vircoulon

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

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

Senior Consultant, Central Africa

Latest Updates

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

Watch List 2018 – First Update

Crisis Group’s first update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on Burundi’s dangerous referendum, militant Buddhists and anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, the impact of the Venezuelan crisis on the region, and the situation in Yemen. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Africa

The Burundian Army’s Dangerous Over-Reliance on Peacekeeping

Burundi needs international peacekeeping missions to keep its troops paid and happy. Peacekeeping missions need Burundian troops. But for how long?

Originally published in African Arguments

Commentary / Africa

Au cœur de la crise burundaise IV : la rente du maintien de la paix en question

La question du financement du contingent burundais de l’Amisom illustre l’effet de rente des missions de maintien de la paix pour les armées pauvres. Ce financement, à long terme, peut avoir des conséquences politiques et socio-économiques qui dépassent le maintien de la paix et des effets pervers qui se font rapidement sentir en temps de crise.

Interview / Africa

Burundi: les problèmes qui minent l'institution militaire

Le 5 avril dernier, l’International Crisis Group sortait un rapport sur les tensions et dissensions qui s’observent au sein de la Force de Défense Nationale (FDN) depuis le début de la crise née de la volonté de Pierre Nkurunziza de se représenter pour un troisième mandat en avril 2015. Le rapport fait le contour des problèmes qui minent l’institution militaire. Thierry Vircoulon, un des auteurs du rapport, a répondu aux questions de Yaga.

Originally published in Yaga Burundi