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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

Deteriorated Situation

Security forces launched deadly raids amid wave of harassment against opposition supporters ahead of general elections due in May, and military conducted cross-border operation in DR Congo against Burundian rebel group. Security forces and Imbonerakure, youth wing of ruling party CNDD-FDD, 3-15 Feb arrested tens of opposition supporters, including at least thirteen members of National Congress for Freedom (CNL) and two UPRONA members across several provinces. Imbonerakure 16 Feb violently prevented CNL members from attending party congress in economic capital Bujumbura where delegates that day chose CNL leader Agathon Rwasa to be party’s presidential candidate in May general elections. Authorities next day arrested nine CNL members in Ngozi province for taking part in congress. Security forces said they clashed with unidentified gunmen who attacked Kirombwe, Bujumbura rural province, 19 Feb; CNL 22 Feb described incident as “staged attack”, said police and Imbonerakure had since arrested 23 CNL members and beaten one to death; authorities 24 Feb said security forces killed at least 22 “wrongdoers” in week-long operations in Bujumbura rural province. Local civil society group said majority of those killed were CNL members. In other incident, after unidentified assailants 23 Feb reportedly killed Imbonerakure in Bururi province, police 24-26 Feb arrested eighteen, mostly CNL members. Unidentified assailants 26 Feb reportedly beat CNDD-FDD official in Muyinga province prompting Imbonerakure to attack home of CNL member, leaving three injured. Several political parties early Feb criticised electoral commission’s candidacy requirements which could prevent candidates from running for president. Govt mid-Feb refused to issue travel documents to six politicians in exile in Uganda, de facto barring them from returning to country. Military early Feb reportedly launched cross-border operation against Burundian rebel group RED-TABARA in South Kivu province in DR Congo.

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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

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
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