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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.

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January 2023

Africa

Burundi

Military faced accusations of human rights abuses in South Kivu (DR Congo) and Cibitoke province, while ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure continued intimidating population.

Congolese Tutsi community accused military of attacking ethnic Tutsi in DR Congo. Burundian troops’ continued support to Congolese army against Burundian and Congolese armed groups in South Kivu (including Tutsi-led RED-Tabara rebel group opposing Burundi’s Hutu-dominated govt), fuelled fears among Congolese Tutsi Banyamulenge community. Local Banyamulenge chiefs from Minembwe territory 4 Jan sent letter to Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye in his capacity as chair of East African Community, denouncing alleged ethnic cleansing of their community by Burundian and Congolese forces alongside Congolese Maï-Maï armed groups. Media outlet La Libre Afrique 19 Jan reported Burundian forces had lost 40 soldiers since deployment in South Kivu in Aug 2022.

Locals accused military of inflicting degrading treatment on local population. As military continued operations against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels based in Kibira forest (north west). Defence Minister Alain Tribert Mutabazi 10 Jan hosted meeting with residents in Mabayi, Cibitoke province; residents accused army elements of collaborating with rebels and complained about behaviour of security forces, including their raping, beating and coercing labour from local population.

Imbonerakure continued harassing population amid general climate of impunity. Five members of ruling party youth militia Imbonerakure 3 Jan stabbed and injured individual in Birohe locality, Gitega province, allegedly due to dispute over theft of personal belongings. Meanwhile, after residents 1 and 16 Jan found dead bodies with signs of torture in Buganda and Rugombo communes, Cibitoke province, local authorities buried bodies without prior investigation.

In other important developments. During ruling CNDD-FDD party congress in capital Gitega, President Ndayishimiye 22 Jan called out corruption in state administration.

December 2022

Africa

Burundi

Authorities took steps to hold to account ruling party supporters as U.S. imposed sanctions on former PM for alleged human rights abuses; military operations against rebels continued near border with Rwanda.

Ruling party supporters came under scrutiny for human rights record. Amid general atmosphere of impunity, several members of ruling party’s youth militia Imbonerakure brought before courts for suspected role in acts of violence against civilians and opposition activists. Notably, Bubanza High Court 13 Dec sentenced one Imbonerakure to 20 years in prison for stabbing man to death in Bubanza province (west) on 7 Dec. Meanwhile, U.S. State Dept 13 Dec re-imposed sanctions, including asset freeze and travel ban, on notorious ruling party hardliner, former PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, for alleged human rights violations during 2015 political crisis; U.S. had sanctioned Bunyoni in 2015, but lifted sanctions when he became PM in 2021.

President Ndayishimiye lashed out at officials as part of anti-corruption drive. Ndayishimiye 6 Dec vowed to combat corruption, notably accusing senior official responsible for public procurement control of alleged malpractices. Police in Rumonge province (south west) 7-10 Dec arrested three local officials and one governor adviser, all ruling party members, for alleged misappropriation of building materials.

Operations against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels continued at Rwandan border. Amid ongoing fighting between govt forces and Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels in Kibira forest, Citiboke province (north west), forest rangers 2 Dec found nine bodies in Mabayi commune.

November 2022

Africa

Burundi

President Ndayishimiye moved to consolidate control over ruling party and engaged in intense diplomacy on security crisis in eastern DR Congo.

Ndayishimiye restructured ruling party’s governing bodies. Ruling CNDD-FDD party’s council of elders, chaired by Ndayishimiye, 2 Nov nominated new general commissioners and replaced several party administrators; restructuring of party’s governing bodies comes amid power struggle between Ndayishimiye and CNDD-FDD Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo.

Bujumbura took active role in regional diplomacy. Ndayishimiye, who has been East African Community (EAC) rotating president since June, 4 Nov hosted former Kenyan president and EAC’s peace process facilitator for DR Congo (DRC), Uhuru Kenyatta; 7 Nov convened rare summit of EAC heads of state on sidelines of UN climate change conference in Egypt to push for concerted response to security crisis in eastern DRC. Ndayishimiye 23 Nov attended mini-summit on peace and security in eastern DRC in Angolan capital Luanda, and 28 Nov opened third session of EAC-led Nairobi talks between Congolese govt and several armed groups active in country’s east (see DR Congo).

In other important developments. In Cibitoke province, security forces 12-16 Nov clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels in Kibira forest, killing at least seven and arresting four. International Criminal Court 25 Nov reported progress on investigations into bloody aftermath of 2015 coup attempt, saying it intends to issue arrest warrants shortly.

October 2022

Africa

Burundi

Security forces launched deadly offensive against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels as govt reopened land border with Rwanda; authorities faced resistance over land expropriations.

Security forces clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels near Rwandan border. After armed forces late Sept launched offensive against National Liberation Front (FNL) – Hutu-led group of Rwandan origin – in Kibira forest, Cibitoke province, security source mid-Oct reported at least 42 rebels and a dozen soldiers killed; fighting reportedly displaced unspecified number of residents. Meanwhile, govt late Oct announced reopening of border with Rwanda after years-long closure; Bujumbura had previously conditioned border reopening to extradition by Kigali of 2015 coup plotters.

Land expropriations sparked tensions across country. Local media 6 Oct reported over 100 households dispossessed of their land over past week by ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure in Rugombe commune, Cibitoke province (north west), so local administration can reallocate land to ruling party members. In Bubanza province (west), over 200 people 10 Oct observed sit-in before governor’s office, protesting against authorities’ expropriation of 5,000 households from their lands in August to make way for construction of military camp. Meanwhile, in Muyinga province (north east), Imbonerakure 9 Oct reportedly arrested 70 supporters – most of them Muslims – of opposition Union for Peace and Democracy-Zigamibanga party for allegedly holding illegal gathering; 50 remained detained by police as of 18 Oct.

In other important developments. Fuel was back at petrol stations 5 Oct after President Ndayishimiye ended months-long standoff with country’s biggest oil distribution company Interpetrol that caused fuel shortages across country. European Union 25 Oct announced lifting sanctions on three senior officials, including PM Gervais Ndirakobuca and Senior Presidential Adviser Gen. Godefroid Bizimana, following “intensified dialogue” with Bujumbura on human rights record.

September 2022

Africa

Burundi

Political tensions ran high as President Ndayishimiye purged cabinet after alleging coup plot, and opposition faced obstruction during local elections.

President appointed new PM after alleging coup plot. President Ndayishimiye 2 Sept warned of coup plot during meeting of govt officials in political capital Gitega, vowed to “defeat” anyone threatening him. In following days, Ndayishimiye launched high-level political purge. PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, close ally to former President Nkurunziza, and five ministers sacked 7-8 Sept; Interior Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca immediately appointed as new PM and confirmed by parliament; Ndayishimiye 7 Sept also replaced chief of presidential cabinet, Gen. Gabriel Nizigama, with Col. Aloys Sindayihebura, and sacked or redeployed 54 police provincial commissioners.

Several opposition candidates denied running in local elections. Authorities in three municipalities of Ngozi province 7 Sept reportedly disallowed over dozen members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to run in 12 Sept local elections; on election day, local authorities allegedly removed four CNL candidates from ballot in Bugenyuzi commune, Karusi province. Local observers in Makamba province 12 Sept reported several irregularities favouring ruling party and obstructing participation of opposition, retired military members and ethnic Tutsis.

Ruling party youth wing accused of politically motivated violent attacks. Local media 7 Sept reported that ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 2 Sept attempted to kill inhabitant of Busiga commune in Ngozi province for refusing to join ruling CNDD-FDD party. Suspected Imbonerakure 25 Sept beat into coma University of Burundi student in Bujumbura city for alleged affiliation with CNL. Meanwhile, as part of nationwide training campaign, group of Imbonerakure 4-6 Sept received military training in Cibitoke province; military official said they will join the fight against RED-Tabara rebels in DR Congo’s South Kivu province. Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Fortuné Gaétan Zongo, mid-Sept said country’s human rights record had not significantly improved since 2015.

August 2022

Africa

Burundi

Ruling party CNDD-FDD leader incited violence against dissenting voices, while hundreds of Burundian soldiers officially deployed to DR Congo. Ruling party CNDD-FDD Sec Gen Révérien Ndikuriyo 2 Aug sanctioned killing anyone who “disrupts” national security as “legitimate”, urged CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure to continue night patrols. Imbonerakure continued to intimidate and harass population, in particular members of political opposition, in general climate of impunity. Notably, Imbonerakure elements 8 Aug killed one Rwandan national en route to visit Burundian family in Mugina commune, Cibitoke province; 13 Aug severely battered two members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Gashoho commune, Muyinga province. Fuel shortages in Aug impacted economic activities in major cities, notably economic capital Bujumbura, and heavily affected public transportation systems. After months of denial by Gitega and Kinshasa of any presence of Burundian army in DR Congo amid reports of Burundian forces fighting RED-Tabara rebels in South Kivu province, 600 Burundian troops 15 Aug officially crossed border into South Kivu; military authorities in South Kivu mid-Aug suggested Burundian contingent deployed as part of East African Community’s regional force agreed upon in April to thwart armed group violence in eastern DR Congo; Burundian military 26 Aug however said deployment is part of bilateral agreement between Congolese and Burundian authorities.

July 2022

Africa

Burundi

Harassment of govt opponents persisted; military operations against rebels in eastern DR Congo continued; and President Ndayishimiye assumed chairmanship of East African Community regional bloc. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 2 July allegedly battered individual to death in Ntega commune, Kirundo province, over accusations of stealing food. Suspected Imbonerakure around 8 July reportedly raided home of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom member Donatien Ndayishimiye in Mwumba commune, Ngozi province; local media denounced “assassination attempt”. Police 14 July arrested three Imbonerakure in Mparambo village, Cibitoke province, after discovering military uniforms at their house; authorities suspect group impersonated soldiers to commit robberies. Hundreds of soldiers and Imbonerakure (who reportedly received two months of accelerated military training) 14-16 July reportedly left Buganda and Rugombo communes in Cibitoke province for DR Congo’s South Kivu province to fight Tutsi-led RED-Tabara rebel group. NGO Burundi Human Rights Initiative 27 July said Burundi has secretly sent hundreds of troops and Imbonerakure to fight RED-Tabara in DR Congo since late 2021. Meanwhile, Rwandan rebels from Hutu-led National Liberation Front (FLN) reported still present in Cibitoke province: locals in Mabayi and Bukinanyana communes 14 July accused them of committing string of thefts in collusion with local retailers and Imbonerakure; also in Mabayi, soldiers 17 July found four dead bodies believed to be those of FLN rebels. On occasion of UN Human Rights Council’s session in Switzerland’s Geneva city, NGO Human Rights Watch 4 July denounced govt’s lack of cooperation with newly appointed UN special rapporteur on Burundi, reported “limited positive steps” under Ndayishimiye to tackle “systematic human rights violations”. Ndayishimiye elected chair of East African Community regional bloc for one year during 21-22 July summit, taking over from Kenyan President Kenyatta.

June 2022

Africa

Burundi

Authorities continued to harass political opposition, while President Ndayishimiye rejected dialogue with RED-Tabara rebel group contradicting earlier statement. Local authorities in Kizuka locality, Rumonge province, 12 June prohibited main opposition party National Congress for Freedom’s (CNL) office inauguration. Locals 14 June found body of CNL youth wing leader Jean-Paul Ntirampeba in Murwi commune, Cibitoke province, accused secret services of detaining and summarily executing him. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 19 June disrupted CNL third-anniversary celebrations in Giharo commune, Rutana province. After two-month face-off with National Assembly President Gélase Daniel Ndabirabe, CNL 22 June obtained authorisation to form parliamentary group. Meanwhile, eight soldiers 2 June drowned in Rusizi river, Citiboke province, en route to join Burundian forces deployed in DR Congo’s South Kivu province to fight RED-Tabara rebels. Ndayishimiye 8 June rejected any form of negotiation with RED-Tabara, one month after expressing interest in dialogue. Fighting between alleged Rwandan soldiers and Burundian rebel group National Liberation Front (FLN) 19-21 June reportedly left ten dead and eight injured in Mabayi commune, Cibitoke province. Amid improving relations between Burundi and EU since lifting of EU financial sanctions in Feb, EU ambassador to Burundi Claude Bochu 10 June said govt must increase financial transparency to receive budget support from EU, suspended in 2016.

May 2022

Africa

Burundi

Court sentenced a dozen opposition members to 15-year imprisonment, and military operations against rebels in eastern DR Congo continued. Harassment of political opposition continued. Ngozi tribunal 10 May sentenced 16 members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) to 15 years in prison on charges of “attempted murder” following late-April clashes with ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure in Ngozi province. NGO Human Rights Watch 18 May alleged Burundian intelligence services, police and ruling party members continue committing large-scale abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention against political opponents, notably CNL members. Hundreds of Imbonerakure 15-22 May reportedly gathered at Vyizigiro stadium in Rumonge province to receive paramilitary training, potentially as part of new govt campaign to create military reserve force. Meanwhile, locals found bodies in Cibitoke province. Notably, forest guards 1 May found five bodies wearing Congolese army uniforms in Bukinanyana municipality; locals 8 May discovered bodies of three Rwandan rebels and one Burundian soldier in Mabayi commune. Country throughout month experienced nation-wide fuel shortage, particularly affecting public transport in major cities. In DR Congo’s South Kivu province, Congolese army 1 May clashed with Burundian soldiers and Imbonerakure allegedly trying to repatriate individuals wounded in fight against RED-Tabara (Tutsi-led group that opposes Burundi’s Hutu-dominated govt). President Ndayishimiye 10 May said he would welcome dialogue with RED-Tabara rebels should group ask for negotiations.

April 2022

Africa

Burundi

Imbonerakure harassed civilians, intelligence services reportedly abducted opposition supporter, and security operations against RED-Tabara rebel movement continued. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure continued to target civilians. During CNDD-FDD sec gen’s visit to Rumonge commune, Imbonerakure 2 April harassed and beat up local fruit vendors. Clashes between opposition party Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) and Imbonerakure 13 April left CNL member severely injured in Mpanda commune, Bubanza province, prompting arrest of 14 CNL members in Mpanda 16-17 April. Authorities 16 April launched national campaign to provide paramilitary training to at least 6,000 Imbonerakure, with view to potentially create Force de réserve et d’appui au développement du pays (FRAD), new reserve military force composed of civilians; first batch of 300 Imbonerakure 16 April completed training in Makamba province. Meanwhile, families accused intelligence service of arresting four people whom they suspected of collaborating with armed groups in Ndava commune, Cankuzo province, 31 March; intelligence services 7 April also allegedly kidnapped CNL member in Cibitoke province. Police collaborating with locals 3 April found two unidentified, tied-up bodies in Buganda commune, Cibitoke province; 8 April found another corpse in Buruhukiro zone, Rumonge commune. Concerns over economic situation rose, primarily in Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces (north west), where rise in commodity prices and fuel shortages paralysed fishing. Armed forces continued to fight RED-Tabara rebel movement, Tutsi-led group that opposes country’s Hutu-dominated govt, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Notably, soldiers and their allies, mai mai rebels, 13 April killed Congolese soldier and stole around 400 cows from local farmers in Mutarule, Uvira territory, South Kivu, DRC; around 90 additional Burundian soldiers 15 April crossed into South Kivu.

March 2022

Africa

Burundi

Suspected killings at hands of intelligence officers continued across country, insecurity persisted at border with DR Congo’s (DRC) South Kivu, and rapprochement with Rwanda forged ahead. Low-level violence continued to be reported. Notably, unknown assailant 6 March killed woman with machete in Karuzi province, unknown attackers same day stabbed to death man in Makamba province. Locals of Cibitoke province 11 March found three chained bodies, two men and one woman; reliable local sources alleged intelligence officers may have killed all three victims and dumped their bodies in locality; discoveries of corpses increased in frequency in Cibitoke province, with locals indicating that more than eight corpses were found in last five months. Locals 1 March also discovered two bodies in capital Bujumbura and another one in Kirundo province 2 March. Authorities reportedly continued to send soldiers to DRC’s South Kivu to fight Burundian rebels of Résistance pour un Etat de Droit (RED-Tabara); delegation of six governors from Burundian provinces bordering DRC 9 March met with South Kivu counterparts in Uvira territory, South Kivu province, to discuss common interests and ongoing insecurity in region, presence of Burundian soldiers on Congolese soil however not directly discussed. Meanwhile, Rwanda 7 March opened its border to Burundi; Burundian borders however remain closed as authorities insisted that Rwanda hand over those responsible for 2015 coup attempt first. President Ndayishimiye 15 March welcomed Rwandan delegation headed by defence minister, suggesting possible face-to-face meeting between Burundian and Rwandan presidents might take place soon.

February 2022

Africa

Burundi

Reports of ongoing army operations in eastern DR Congo (DRC), including alleged serious abuses, continued; President Ndayishimiye pursued diplomatic engagement as EU lifted financial sanctions. Although authorities denied presence in eastern DRC, reliable reports indicated that Burundian army (FNDB) stepped up its operations in DRC’s South Kivu with an estimated 600 Burundian soldiers 31 Jan-3 Feb reportedly crossing Lake Tanganyika into Fizi territory; many soldiers reportedly killed on battlefront or in attempts to reach it. Congolese armed forces (FARDC) 2 Feb killed 33 Mai Mai militiamen allied with Burundian rebels of Résistance pour un Etat de Droit (RED-Tabara) and National Liberation Front (FNL) in Uvira territory. Local media 3 Feb reported that Burundian military intelligence services allegedly executed at least 20 soldiers who were seeking official recognition of their mission in Uvira territory. Congolese civil society 2 Feb denounced grave human rights violations at hands of FNDB likely intensified by operations’ secretive and unofficial nature, notably said FNDB have killed over 70 civilians and caused 80,000 to flee villages since operations started in Dec. Intelligence services and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure continued to terrorise civilians and political opposition; notably, two armed men in police uniforms 8 Feb arrested opposition party National Freedom Congress (CNL) member in Bujumbura province’s Kanyosha commune. Accusations over collaboration with rebels created new opportunities for state-sanctioned violence; suspected RED-Tabara supporter 6 Feb died, reportedly after being tortured by intelligence agents in Cibitoke province. Meanwhile, Gitega pursued continental and multilateral diplomacy; notably, President Evariste Ndayishimiye 7 Feb met with Ethiopian counterpart and next day announced adhesion to African Peer Review Mechanism, which he said showed country’s contribution to good governance. Rwandan President Paul Kagame same day declared upcoming normalisation of bilateral relations. Ndayishimiye 15 Feb attended AU-EU summit in Belgian capital Brussels, first European visit since 2014; visit follows EU’s 8 Feb lift of financial sanctions imposed in March 2016 on Burundian administration; civil society groups 12 Feb criticised decision fearing it could further embolden repressive practices.

January 2022

Africa

Burundi

Insecurity persisted across country, armed forces and ruling party youth wing reportedly clashed with RED-Tabara rebel group in eastern DRC, and authorities continued to mend ties with neighbours. President Ndayishimiye 1 Jan held public forum during which he reiterated anger at country’s judiciary, threatened to fire public servants, notably magistrates, and said mining and energy sectors’ lack of professionalism explains country’s low ranking in economic indexes; Ndayishimiye also rehabilitated local elected officials previously accused of corruption and acknowledged torture cases at hands of intelligence services. Insecurity persisted across country with six incidents involving ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure alongside intelligence and security officials reported 1-13 Jan; notably, Imbonerakure 9 Jan beat to death suspected thief on Musugi hill (Kanyosha commune, Bujumbura Rural province). Macabre discoveries in Cibitoke province and beyond in Makamba and Rumonge provinces (south west) continued: locals of Makamba’s Mabanda commune 5 Jan found the body of unidentified young man, while local administration ordered his burial before identification. Tensions late-Dec-early Jan rose as DR Congo (DRC)-based Burundian rebel group RED-Tabara along with local Mai Mai militia 2, 6 Jan clashed with Burundian armed forces and Imbonerakure in DRC’s South Kivu province; Burundian govt around 7 Jan denied army presence in DRC while media reports alleged dozens of soldiers injured and some killed during incidents. Meanwhile, Rwanda and Burundi pursued reconciliation efforts. Rwandan president 10 Jan received Burundian delegation led by Foreign Minister Ezekiel Nigibira to strengthen bilateral relations and prepare ground for meeting between two presidents. Authorities 12 Jan also received Ugandan defence minister to discuss regional security and 16 Jan signed Memorandum of Understanding for $900mn deal on railway construction with Tanzania.

December 2021

Africa

Burundi

Amid ongoing accusations against national intelligence and ruling party youth wing of serious human rights abuses, authorities continued to reject UN scrutiny. Members of leading opposition party National Freedom Congress (CNL) suffered persecution throughout month. In separate operations, security forces 1-2 Dec arrested CNL members Olivier Nkurunziza, Manassé Uwimana, Salomon Nduwayo, Manassé Nduwayo and Venant Nahabonimana, all in Ngozi province. CNL party leader Agathon Rwasa 4 Dec decried ongoing arbitary arrests, notably in Ngozi, and impunity of perpetrators. Insecurity persisted in other provinces, amid ongoing allegations of serious abuses at hands of security forces and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure, including unlawful killings and torture. Notably, suspected Imbonerakure 6 Dec killed Jean Marie Nsabimana in Bubanza province for unknown reasons; after farmers 10 Dec found two unidentified mutilated corpses in Buganda commune, Cibitoke province, local Imbonerakure chased away witnesses and hastily buried bodies; Augustin Matata, who had been arrested in Nov by intelligence officers, 15 Dec died of wounds in hospital in capital Bujumbura, while authorities 17 Dec arrested alleged culprit, intelligence officer Gérard Ndayisenga. Imbonerakure 16 Dec arrested CNL member Innocent Barutwanayo in Matongo commune, Kayanza province; Barutwanayo reportedly died following torture 19 Dec. Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro 9 Dec told diplomats that country would not allow as yet unnamed holder of recently created post of UN Human Rights rapporteur on Burundi into country. Fire 7 Dec broke out at overcrowded prison in capital Gitega killing 38, injuring 69.

November 2021

Africa

Burundi

Security forces clashed with unidentified gunmen in Kibira forest; forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests of political opponents continued. Security forces 5 Nov clashed with unidentified armed men in Kibira forest reserve, killing two and arresting one; renewed exchange of fire next day left one soldier dead. Army 10 Nov killed three alleged rebels and arrested another in same forest, while local official and police officer injured during operation. Court 11 Nov sentenced suspect of 5 Nov attacks to life imprisonment on charges of “undermining state security”. Arbitrary arrests of opponents continued. Notably, presumed security forces and ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure 1 Nov detained member of opposition National Freedom Congress (CNL) Abdoul Ndayishimiye in Cibitoke province; intelligence officers 16 Nov arrested Jean Baptiste Mpawenayo, relative of CNL leader Agathon Rwasa, in Bujumbura area. Suspected Imbonerakure 8 Nov also kidnapped and later killed CNL member Claude Nibigira in Buterere area, Bujumbura Mairie province. Locals in Buganda and Rugombo communes, Cibitoke province, early Nov found two bodies bearing signs of torture. Unidentified assailants 27 Nov gunned down businessman and opposition party member Christophe Nimbabazi in Zambian capital Lusaka; attack raised concerns among exiled political opponents. U.S. President Biden 18 Nov removed sanctions on eight senior military and security officials, including PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, citing reduced violence and return to political normality since 2020 elections; move follows 18 Oct EU decision to renew for another year sanctions on three Burundian govt officials and one former general, initially imposed in Oct 2015 for their role in violence and political obstruction in April-May 2015.

October 2021

Africa

Burundi

Sporadic violence continued, notably in centre, UN decided to appoint special rapporteur on human rights, and Kinshasa arrested dozens of suspected Burundian rebels. Unidentified assailants 10 Oct killed two military in exchange of fire in Murumvya province. Inhabitants of Cibitoke province 14-17 Oct discovered around a dozen mutilated bodies in or near Rusizi river; in response, President Ndayishimiye 18 Oct sent delegation to area to discuss security situation with provincial governor. Govt 20 Oct handed over 11 suspected members of Rwandan dissident group National Liberation Front (FLN) to Kigali; Rwandan intelligence chief Gen Vincent Nyakarundi welcomed move, but said hundreds more insurgents present in Burundi’s Kibira forest. UN Human Rights Council 8 Oct voted to appoint special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, following work of UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (2016-2021) whose final report was released in Sept. DR Congo authorities 5 Oct arrested over 30 alleged Burundian rebels in South Kivu province and 10 Oct claimed to have killed same day two Burundian members of RED-Tabara armed group; RED-Tabara 11 Oct denied claim.

September 2021

Africa

Burundi

Series of grenade explosions killed several people and wounded scores. Armed group RED-Tabara overnight 18-19 Sept launched mortar attacks on Bujumbura airport, from where President Ndayishimiye was due to fly next day, leaving no casualties; RED-Tabara next day claimed to have killed members of armed forces in ensuing clashes in Rukoko forest. Unidentified assailants 19-20 Sept launched at least four grenade attacks in capital Gitega and economic capital Bujumbura, killing at least five and injuring over a hundred; govt 21 Sept blamed “unidentified terrorists”, and RED-Tabara same day denied involvement. Authorities 22 Sept issued international arrest warrant against exiled opposition leader Alexis Sinduhije on suspicions of leading RED-Tabara. Grenade attack 28 Sept killed at least four in Vugizo village, Bujumbura Rural province. Meanwhile, military, police and ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure forces deployed 11 Sept in Buganda commune, Citiboke province, near border with DR Congo (DRC), amid alleged imminent risk of attack by DRC-based Burundian rebels. Military 25 Sept reportedly detained 13 Kinyarwanda-speaking individuals in Citiboke province on suspicion of belonging to Rwandan rebel group. Authorities same day arrested 34 youths in Rutegama commune, Muramvya province over suspicion of seeking to join armed groups. UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (CoI) 16 Sept found Ndayishimiye, one year into presidency, has failed to undertake structural reforms to improve human rights record and rule of law. Following Gitega’s late June-early July suspension of foreign mining operations pending renegotiation of contracts with international companies, Council of Ministers 8 Sept held first discussion on reforming national Mining Code; established all minerals belong to Burundi and state must be involved at every stage of exploitation process.

August 2021

Africa

Burundi

Authorities stepped up repression of political opponents amid tensions within ruling party over suspension of foreign mining operations. In south, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 1 Aug seized two members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Muhuta commune, Rumonge province. In Rutana province, Imbonerakure 11 Aug reportedly attacked CNL party representative Pierre Ndayisaba and his brother in Giharo commune; next day over 50 Imbonerakure brought Ndayisaba to police station; Ndayisaba later transferred to Rutana prison. Police 13 Aug arrested three CNL members in Kayogoro commune, Makamba province, and seized funds they were collecting for construction of party headquarters, before releasing them 16 Aug without returning funds. In north east, Imbonerakure 5 Aug reportedly vandalised CNL office in Ruhororo commune, Ngozi province; authorities same day detained two CNL members in Gitobe commune, Kirundo province, releasing them 14 Aug. In north west, residents in Cibitoke province’s Bukinanyana commune 13 Aug reported Imbonerakure night patrols amid concerns among local CNL members that ruling party is inciting youth wing to step up attacks against them; CNL activist also reportedly abducted 15-16 Aug by National Intelligence Services head, in Rugombo commune. In centre, intelligence officials 9 Aug detained three CNL members in Mwaro province’s Kayokwe commune, before releasing them 10 and 13 Aug. In Karusi province, Imbonerakure 28 Aug reportedly seized six CNL members in Shombo commune. Security forces 16 Aug arrested seven individuals, including one Rwandan, for allegedly collaborating with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group in Mabayi commune, Citiboke province. Meanwhile, risk of instability within CNDD-FDD persisted over late June-early July suspension of all foreign mining operations pending ongoing renegotiation of mining contracts with state.

July 2021

Africa

Burundi

Govt continued to mend ties with neighbours; clampdown on opposition persisted. Following arrest of at least six members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) for alleged role in June deadly ambush in Muramvya province, CNL 3 July criticised “disguised way to harass [opposition] and thereby further lock down political space”. CNL 13 July said its leader in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura Rural province, had gone missing 9 July after boarding army vehicle, called for investigation and decried “arbitrary arrests” of party members. Meanwhile, govt officially engaged in regional security cooperation, notably hosting meeting of heads of intelligence and security from DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda 5-6 July; officials adopted two-year plan of action for Contact Group set to implement non-military measures to complement military efforts against armed actors in region from early Aug. During President Ndayishimiye’s visit to neighbouring DRC, Gitega and Kinshasa 13 July announced bilateral cooperation against armed groups in eastern DRC; agreement likely to lead to joint operations against Burundian armed groups in South Kivu province. Amid rapprochement with Rwanda, Rwanda’s PM Edouard Ngirente 1 July attended Burundi’s independence celebration; Gitega 4 July however did not attend Rwanda’s Liberation Day festivities, which marks end of genocide against ethnic Tutsis. Burundian FM Albert Shingiro 12 July said Kigali’s refusal to hand over those allegedly involved in 2015 failed coup against former President Nkurunziza remains final obstacle in rapprochement; Ndayishimiye 17 July expressed hope that solution is close. Kigali 30 July handed over to Gitega 19 RED-Tabara rebels captured in late 2020.

June 2021

Africa

Burundi

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.

May 2021

Africa

Burundi

Series of grenade attacks killed at least two and wounded scores; meanwhile, AU and UN missions downscaled in-country monitoring presence. Unidentified assailants launched five grenade attacks against bus stations and public markets during rush hour in capital Bujumbura 25 May and in Muramvya city 27 May, leaving at least two dead and at least 57 injured; police killed one attacker and arrested five suspects. Govt called violence “terrorism”; motives behind attacks still unclear. In Muramvya province, unidentified armed men 9 May killed at least eight and injured five; police by next day had arrested 32 individuals, including 25 former military officers. Ntahangwa High Court 7 May sentenced former opposition MP Fabien Banciryanino to one-year imprisonment for “rebellion and attack on the internal security of the state” after criticising former President Nkurunziza’s “Supreme Guide of Patriotism”; sentence lighter than requested by prosecution. AU Peace and Security Council 7 May announced decision to shut down Human Rights Observers and Military Experts Mission in Burundi by 31 May, and to remove country from agenda citing “significant progress” in political and security situation. UN Sec-Gen Special Envoy’s Office also due to close on 31 May. In neighbouring DR Congo’s South Kivu province ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 19 May clashed with Maï-Maï militiamen aligned with Burundian armed group RED-Tabara in Uvira territory. Rwandan govt 24 May claimed to have killed two National Liberation Front (FLN) rebels crossing the border from Burundi; Gitega denied presence of armed groups hostile to Rwanda on Burundian soil.

April 2021

Africa

Burundi

Govt continued diplomatic offensive as part of effort to alleviate country’s isolation; clampdown on opposition and civil society persisted. Authorities 2 April lifted June 2019 ban on independent NGO PARCEM in apparent move to respond to EU’s demands for improvements in human rights and media freedom. Govt and EU 9 April held second round of negotiations on normalising relations, including lifting EU sanctions and resuming direct financial support; EU invited Burundian FM Albert Shingiro for European tour, which started 26 April. Amid rapprochement with Rwanda, govt 2 April welcomed Kigali’s late March decision to suspend three Burundian radio stations, which had been operating from Kigali since 2015 political crisis in Burundi, said move showed “dialogue [with country] was not in vain”. AU Peace and Security Council 27 April met to discuss possible shutdown of Human Rights Observers and Military Experts Mission in Burundi; decision expected early May. Meanwhile, authorities continued to harass opposition and civil society. In Rumonge province, authorities 11 April arrested opposition party Union for National Progress youth leader over accusations of hosting unauthorised gathering and 14 April arrested civilian for allegedly cooperating with rebel group. Authorities 13 April decried as biased U.S. State Dept’s annual report on human rights, published late March, which recorded at least 205 extrajudicial killings in Burundi in 2020 and highlighted “widespread impunity for govt and ruling party officials and for their supporters and proxies”. Main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) next day called on govt to release 15 CNL members who have been imprisoned for almost a year on accusations of threatening security around May 2020 general elections. Former Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Cyrille Ndayirukiye 24 April died in Gitega prison, where he was serving life sentence for allegedly playing central role in 2015 coup attempt. Authorities 26 April released first 3,000 of over 5,000 detainees who were granted presidential amnesty in March in bid to alleviate prison overcrowding.

March 2021

Africa

Burundi

Ruling party continued to stifle opposition and armed forces launched offensives on Hutu rebels at border with Rwanda. In Karusi province’s Buhiga and Gitaramuka communes, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 14 March assaulted four members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom. In effort to reduce prison overcrowding, President Ndayishimiye 5 March issued presidential decree granting amnesty to over 5,000 prisoners, but left out many political prisoners detained over accusations of “participating in armed gangs” or “endangering security of the state”. NGO Human Rights Watch 8 March called on govt to drop charges and release eight former Burundian refugees – whom Tanzania forcibly returned in July 2020 – on trial for allegedly “attacking the integrity of the national territory and participating in armed gangs”; two additional refugees reported missing 6-7 March. In address to UN Human Rights Council, UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi 11 March acknowledged some steps taken by authorities to improve human rights record but concluded that current situation “too complex and uncertain to be referred to as genuine improvement”; Burundian representative decried briefing as “politically motivated”. Meanwhile, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of 2000 Arusha peace accords and tasked with investigating past violence, 19 March presented results of its findings in Bururi province to parliament; results sparked mixed reactions as some accused Commission of focusing on killings of Hutu ethnic group members only. Amid recent diplomatic rapprochement with Rwanda, Burundian armed forces late Feb-1 March launched offensive against Rwandan Hutu rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, remnant of Rwandan Hutu militia that killed much of the Tutsi minority and many moderate Hutu during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide; clashes in Mabayi commune, Cibitoke province left at least two rebels dead and 15 soldiers injured. Also in Mabayi commune, Burundian authorities 18 March arrested two civilians suspected of complicity with Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group.

February 2021

Africa

Burundi

Authorities continued crackdown on opposition, and Supreme Court convicted 34 individuals of involvement in 2015 coup attempt against former President Nkurunziza. In Rumonge province, police 31 Jan-2 Feb arrested five civilians suspected of complicity with armed groups. In Bujumbura Rural province’s Kanyosha commune, ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 14 Feb assaulted four members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) and 28 Feb clashed with CNL party meeting attendees, leaving 12 injured on both sides. In Cibitoke province, National Intelligence Services mid-Feb arrested seven civilians for allegedly cooperating with Kinyarwanda speakers in illegal gold trade; armed forces late Feb killed at least two and captured 16 Kinyarwanda-speaking armed group members in Mabayi commune. CNL leader Agathon Rwasa 14 Feb denounced judicial harassment of opposition, said over 140 CNL members remain behind bars despite having served their sentence or been acquitted. Meanwhile, in decision released 2 Feb but dating back to 23 June 2020, Supreme Court convicted in absentia 34 individuals to life imprisonment for involvement in failed coup against former President Nkurunziza in 2015; those convicted include former VP Bernard Busokoza, former president of opposition party Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) Jean Minani, and opposition figure Alexis Sinduhije, whom authorities accuse of leading rebel group RED-Tabara. After President Ndayishimiye late Jan asked National Council of Communication (CNC) to reopen dialogue with media outlets banned in 2015, CNC 1 Feb held follow-up meeting with several of them; gathering however excluded media in exile. Director of Burundian Union of Journalists same day welcomed “step in the right direction”.EU 2 Feb formally restarted dialogue with Burundi, which was interrupted in 2016; in letter to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, 43 EU parliamentarians 5 Feb opposed resumption of dialogue and cooperation, citing continued human rights violations by Burundian authorities, including arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances.

January 2021

Africa

Burundi

Authorities continued to repress political opponents, and ruling party elected new head. Security forces and ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 3-22 Jan arrested over a dozen members of opposition parties National Congress for Freedom (CNL) and FRODEBU in several provinces. In Rumonge province, security forces 14-16 Jan killed two former soldiers suspected of supporting rebel groups. Residents in several provinces 20 Dec-23 Jan discovered at least 13 bodies, including some with signs of torture. Truth and Reconciliation Commission – provided for in 2000 Arusha peace accords and tasked with investigating ethnic violence in country’s recent past – 7 Jan presented to parliament intermediary report focused on 1972 mass killings. Civil society platform FORSC 15 Jan criticised it as biased, saying truth commission relied on selected testimonies, did not investigate archives of local administrations, and solely focused on violence against Hutu population, failing to address violence against Tutsis. Ruling party CNDD-FDD 24 Jan elected former Senate President Révérien Ndikuriyo as new party sec gen, replacing President Ndayishimiye; NGO Burundi Human Rights Initiative immediately expressed concerns that Ndikuriyo’s election “seems to consolidate the dominance of hardliners since the 2020 elections” and “does not bode well for human rights”. Meanwhile, govt continued to rebuild relations with foreign partners. EU delegation to Burundi, along with Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands 4 Jan expressed wish for “complete and gradual” normalisation of relations; statement also welcomed “the gestures made especially on the occasion of the end-of-year celebrations”, referring to Ndayishimiye’s late Dec pardoning of four independent media outlet Iwacu journalists, sentenced to two and a half years in prison in Jan 2020 on charges of “threatening state security”.  

December 2020

Africa

Burundi

Authorities continued to harass opposition while country’s removal from UN Security Council agenda marked major victory for President Ndayishimiye. Unidentified assailants 2 Dec killed two members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Butaganzwa commune, Ruyigi province. Police 14 Dec arrested six CNL members in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura Rural province on suspicion of supporting rebel group. In joint report on human rights violations, 15 civil society organisations 10 Dec recorded 821 arbitrary arrests, 368 extrajudicial killings, 182 torture cases and 59 enforced disappearances in 2020; report identified CNL members and ethnic Tutsis as main victims, and security forces and ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure as main perpetrators. Ndayishimiye 30 Dec said Burundian Tutsis are over-represented in international organisations, vowed to “purify the dirty water” in Burundi. Meanwhile, govt relations with international community thawed. UN Security Council 4 Dec removed Burundi from its agenda; thousands of ruling-party supporters 12 Dec celebrated move in capital Gitega, economic capital Bujumbura and Ngozi city. Ndayishimiye 7 Dec met EU Ambassador Claude Bochu in Bujumbura; first meeting between EU and Burundian head of state since EU suspended financial cooperation with govt in 2016. FM Albert Shingiro 10-11 Dec also met Bochu alongside Belgian, French, German and Dutch ambassadors in Bujumbura to discuss normalisation of relations with EU. Former President Buyoya 18 Dec died of COVID-19 in France; Buyoya had resigned as African Union High Representative for Mali and the Sahel late Nov after Supreme Court in Oct sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for involvement in murder of Hutu President Ndadaye in 1993. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 15 Dec expressed concern about “violation of fundamental rights” of Burundian refugees in Tanzania, including cases of forced eviction.

November 2020

Africa

Burundi

Govt continued crackdown on dissent and ordered UN to close its special envoy’s office in country. Monitoring from human rights groups revealed decrease in cases of arbitrary arrests during month, with ten in Nov compared to 98 in Oct. Ruling party CNDD-FDD’s youth wing Imbonerakure continued to pose threats to civilian population, notably killing child in Mutimbuizi commune, Bubanza province 2 Nov. President Ndayishimiye 16 Nov called on Imbonerakure to step up efforts to track down “enemies” inside country. Residents in Cibitoke province mid-Nov said they had recovered around 20 lifeless bodies near Rusizi river since Oct, accused National Intelligence Service of bearing responsibility. Govt 11-14 Nov auctioned off properties of 30 former govt officials suspected of involvement in 2015 coup attempt against former President Nkurunziza, despite lack of formal judicial investigation; authorities in recent weeks also arrested three current and former intelligence service agents over suspicion of involvement in coup attempt. Govt 26 Oct-6 Nov conducted civil servant census, requiring information about ethnicity. Govt 10 Nov praised “record of repatriation” of Burundian refugees from Tanzania, DRC and Rwanda in recent days. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie 4 Nov lifted sanctions against Burundi in place since 2015, reinstating country as full member. After UN delegation’s visit to Burundi in Sept concluded rights abuses continued under Ndayishimiye, UN Sec-Gen Guterres 3 Nov recommended mandate extension of Office of Special Envoy for Burundi until end of 2021. Govt 17 Nov however said it will discontinue office’s accreditation 31 Dec 2020, arguing that UN presence seeks to “maintain Burundi in a psychosis of an artificial crisis cunningly orchestrated by foreign actors”.

October 2020

Africa

Burundi

Authorities continued crackdown on opposition and targeted Kinyarwanda speakers and ethnic Tutsi minority amid tense relations with neighbours. Police early Oct arrested rights activist and former opposition MP Fabien Banciryanino in economic capital Bujumbura on charges of “rebellion” and “threat to national security”; Banciryanino in Feb accused former President Nkurunziza’s govt of extrajudicial killings. Intelligence services 8 Oct reportedly arrested seven individuals, including three members of opposition National Congress for Freedom (CNL), in Mwaro province, on unknown charges. Meanwhile, residents in Kirundo province said authorities 13 Oct distributed arms to ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure; inhabitants of Ruyigi province mid-Oct reported paramilitary trainings of Imbonerakure on soccer fields. Govt 8 Oct called on Burundians to report presence of Kinyarwanda speakers (native to Rwanda and DR Congo), saying they posed threat to national security. Police 6-14 Oct reportedly arrested around 130 Congolese nationals from ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge group in operations to track down Kinyarwanda speakers in Gitega, Muyinga and Ngozi provinces. Imbonerakure 11 Oct beat young man to death in Bugabira commune, Kirundo province, reportedly for having Rwandophone accent. Supreme court 19 Oct sentenced in absentia former President Buyoya, current African Union High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, along with 18 political and military figures, mostly Tutsi, to life imprisonment for murder of Hutu President Ndadaye in 1993. After Rwanda 2 Oct announced arrest of 19 members of Burundian armed group RED-Tabara, Burundi requested immediate handover of prisoners; instead, Rwandan Intelligence Services 5 Oct asked International Conference on Great Lakes Region to launch investigation. Repatriation of Burundian refugees from Rwanda continued; FM Albert Shingiro 20 Oct met Rwandan counterpart at Nemba border post to discuss security cooperation. President Ndayishimiye did not attend 7 Oct regional summit on security cooperation hosted by DR Congo (see DR Congo). UN Human Rights Council 6 Oct extended Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for one year. After renewal of EU sanctions against Burundi last month, Shingiro 9 Oct summoned all foreign diplomats and demanded their respective countries suspend sanctions.

September 2020

Africa

Burundi

Series of deadly attacks targeted ruling party and its youth wing, while govt stepped up crackdown on opposition and ethnic Tutsi minority. Armed individuals launched attacks on members of ruling party CNDD-FDD and its youth wing Imbonerakure in several provinces. Armed group RED-Tabara 15, 18 and 25 Sept claimed several of these attacks, said they had killed at least 29 ruling-party supporters and 30 security forces personnel. Several unclaimed attacks sparked rumours of emergence of new rebel group, and Public African Radio 3 Sept alleged govt enrolled Imbonerakure to commit targeted murders and fake armed group attacks, reportedly to legitimise its monitoring of opposition; President Ndayishimiye 27 Sept denied allegations. Meanwhile, authorities stepped up repression of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) members and Tutsi civilians. Imbonerakure, police and national intelligence services 1-21 Sept reportedly arrested over 50 CNL members across country. Notably, security forces 12 Sept arrested 27 CNL members during raid in Muha commune, Bujumbura Mairie province. Imbonerakure 4 Sept also reportedly beat CNL activist to death in Bwambarangwe commune, Kirundo province. Authorities early Sept arrested about 20 Tutsi students and 1 Sept arrested newly elected local Tutsi leader and three others in Mugamba commune, Bururi province. UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi 23 Sept decried “summary executions, numerous arbitrary arrests and detention, cases of torture and ill-treatment” and “numerous violations of key civil liberties” over past few months. Ndayishimiye next day denied allegations, reiterated call to remove country from UN human rights agenda. Govt mid-Sept set steep conditions for normalising relations with Kigali, including that Rwandan govt extradite suspected perpetrators of 2015 coup attempt against former President Nkurunziza and facilitate refugees’ returns. Meanwhile, group of 507 Burundian refugees in Rwanda 10 Sept returned home.

August 2020

Africa

Burundi

President Ndayishimiye continued to take steps to consolidate his rule and turned hostile toward neighbouring Rwanda. In session boycotted by main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL), National Assembly 7 Aug elected new bureau: ruling party CNDD-FDD hardliner Daniel Gélase Ndabirabe appointed as president. Crackdown on opposition and civil society continued. CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 11 Aug arrested two CNL members in Mabayi commune, Cibitoke province, for allegedly vandalising CNDD-FDD property, and next day detained CNL member in Kanyosha commune, Bujumbura Rural province, on grounds of “insult to the head of state”. Suspected Imbonerakure 15 Aug threw grenade at house in Bukemba commune, Rutana province, killing four; CNL representatives said attack was targeted at party member. Police 25 Aug detained two CNL members in Kanyosha commune for allegedly belonging to armed group. Kayanza High Court 9 Aug sentenced three young individuals to 30 years in prison on charges of “attack and conspiracy against the head of state” after they allegedly threw rocks at president’s convoy in Kayanza province 5 Aug; civil society immediately denounced “politically motivated” decision in run-up to 24 Aug communal elections. Suspected members of Burundian rebel group Red-Tabara crossing from neighbouring DR Congo 23 Aug reportedly killed 11 civilians in Bugarama commune, Rumonge province; security forces killed five assailants. After Rwandan President Kagame in recent months stated willingness to improve relations with Burundi, Ndayishimiye 6 Aug said Burundi does not want relations with “hypocrite state” holding Burundian refugees hostage; statement follows late-July claim by five Burundian refugees that Rwanda is preventing their repatriation. Rwandan govt 12 Aug said it is ready to facilitate refugee returns but Burundi unwilling to mend ties. First group of 500 refugees returned to Burundi 27 Aug. Military intelligence chiefs from Rwanda and Burundi 26 Aug met at Nemba border post in Rwanda, agreed to cooperate on border security; first high-level meeting between neighbours since 2015.

July 2020

Africa

Burundi

New President Ndayishimiye continued to establish his power, while relations with international community and neighbouring Rwanda showed potential for improvement. Senate 11 July approved 18 provincial governors appointed by Ndayishimiye, including five senior army and police officers; appointment of defence and security officials as governors a first in 20 years. Coalition of opposition-in-exile 6 July condemned lack of representation of ethnic Tutsi minority in govt formed in June and among governors, with only one Tutsi minister and three Tutsi governors. Municipal councillors 20 July elected 36 senators, including 34 from ruling party CNDD-FDD. Meanwhile, opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) and civil society members continued to face repression and acts of vandalism. Security forces 9 July briefly detained three independent media IWACU journalists after they published interview with civil society leader Terence Mushano; same day arrested Mushano on charges of “threatening public safety”; Mushano released 15 July. Intelligence services 6 and 16 July arrested three CNL municipal councillors in Muhuta municipality, Rumonge province, reportedly to prevent their participation in 20 July senatorial elections. Suspected CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure 15-16 July destroyed CNL office in Gihanga township, Bubanza province. Unidentified assailants 16 July kidnapped local CNL politician’s daughter in Ntahangwa commune, Bujumbura Mairie province, released her next day. Despite Ndayishimiye’s critical stance on cooperation with international community in June inauguration speech, govt relations with international organisations showed potential for improvement. Ndayishimiye 1 July met with former U.S. special envoy to Great Lakes region. Infrastructure minister 14 July met with EU ambassador to discuss resumption of EU support for infrastructure projects. Rwandan President Kagame 10 July said he was “ready to work with President Ndayishimiye”. In major shift in national response to COVID-19, Ndayishimiye 1 July declared pandemic to be Burundi’s “biggest enemy” at present; authorities 6 July launched countrywide testing campaign; land borders to reopen 1 Aug.

June 2020

Africa

Burundi

Inauguration of President-elect Ndayishimiye was fast-tracked following sudden death of incumbent President Nkurunziza, opposition continued to suffer repression from ruling party’s youth wing, and relations with Rwanda remained tense. Constitutional Court 4 June rejected presidential election runner-up Agathon Rwasa’s May appeal against provisional results and confirmed ruling party CNDD-FDD candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye as winner. Rwasa next day accepted decision and said he would not bring case before East African Community’s Court of Justice. With new president due to take office in Aug, death of President Nkurunziza 8 June created power vacuum. While some within CNDD-FDD called for National Assembly President Pascal Nyabenda to become interim president as foreseen by Constitution, govt 11 June asked Constitutional Court for guidance; Court next day ruled that President-elect Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately. In inauguration speech in capital Gitega 18 June, Ndayishimiye promised to carry on legacy of his predecessor. In session boycotted by opposition, National Assembly 23 June approved nomination of Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni as PM and Prosper Bazombanza as VP; Ndayishimiye 28 June appointed cabinet of 15 ministers dominated by regime hardliners; both Bunyoni and Interior Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca under international sanctions for alleged involvement in political repression and violence against civilians since 2015. Meanwhile, CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure continued to repress members of Rwasa’s National Congress for Freedom (CNL) party. Notably, Imbonerakure 10 June reportedly captured three CNL members whom they accused of celebrating Nkurunziza’s death in Citiboke province. Although Rwandan President Kagame congratulated Ndayishimiye for electoral victory 6 June and offered condolences over Nkurunziza’s death 10 June, reportedly his first public statements on Burundi since 2015, Burundi-Rwanda relations remained tense. Rwandan Defence Ministry 27 June said around 100 armed men from Burundi, some equipped with Burundian army material, attacked Rwandan Defence Forces in Ruheru sector near Burundian border; Burundi govt same day rejected accusation (see also Rwanda).

May 2020

Africa

Burundi

Presidential and legislative elections held 20 May were marred by allegations of fraud and irregularities, and post-electoral crisis loomed after opposition challenged provisional results before Constitutional Court, raising risk of violence in June. Electoral commission 25 May said ruling party CNDD-FDD presidential candidate Évariste Ndayishimiye defeated main rival Agathon Rwasa from opposition National Congress for Freedom (CNL) party with 68% of vote in presidential election; same day announced CNDD-FDD won 72 of 100 National Assembly seats with 68% of vote in legislative elections. Rwasa immediately rejected provisional results and 28 May filed appeal to Constitutional Court, citing widespread fraud and irregularities by CNDD-FDD, including ballot stuffing and expulsion of CNL observers from polling stations. Meanwhile, president of Electoral Commission 27-28 May revealed provisional results had not been fully verified and withdrew them from commission’s website; 29-30 May republished same provisional results online. In lead-up to vote, authorities 8 May applied fourteen-day COVID-19 quarantine on electoral observers from East African Community regional bloc, de facto preventing observation mission from monitoring polls, while violent confrontations between CNDD-FDD and CNL members continued. Notably, clashes between CNDD-FDD and CNL supporters in Bujumbura and Kirundo provinces 3-4 May left one dead and seventeen injured. Members of Imbonerakure, youth wing of CNDD-FDD, reportedly stripped twenty CNL supporters of their voter cards in Muyinga province 6 May and injured five others during CNL meeting in Bubanza province 15 May. CNL 28 May said authorities arrested 600 CNL supporters during electoral campaign and on election day, with 423 still detained. Authorities in Ngozi province 25-26 May sentenced several CNL representatives to up to one year in prison for reportedly using forged documents on voting day. Military 8 May clashed with Rwandan forces at maritime border on Lake Rweru; one govt soldier reportedly killed.

April 2020

Africa

Burundi

Amid ongoing harassment of opposition supporters, violent clashes between security forces and ruling party CNDD-FDD’s youth wing, and main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL), raised risk of escalation around general elections still planned for 20 May despite COVID-19 pandemic. Civil society mid-April condemned wave of arbitrary arrests of CNL members in several provinces since early April. CNL supporters and Imbonerakure, youth wing of CNDD-FDD, 8 April clashed in northern Kayanza province, one Imbonerakure killed; police next day arrested up to 30 CNL supporters there. Unidentified assailants 11 April killed local CNDD-FDD secretary in Kiremba commune, northern Ngozi province; authorities next day arrested ten party members on suspicion of involvement in attack. Clashes between CNDD-FDD and CNL supporters 19 April left six injured including CNDD-FDD regional secretary in Kirundo province in north. Police 28 April arrested CNL parliamentary election candidate for southern Makamba province over suspected involvement in previous day attack on Imbonerakure in Ngozi province. After first VP Gaston Sindimwo 7 April confirmed general elections planned for 20 May would go ahead despite COVID-19 pandemic, govt 15 April cancelled participation of diaspora in elections, citing insufficient capacity of electoral commission to organise voting abroad amid crisis. Campaign started 27 April. During raid in Bururi province in south, police 15 April reportedly killed three people, including former army officer Pascal Ninganza (alias Kaburimbo), suspected of having provided military training to demonstrators during 2015 anti-govt protests; civil society condemned extra-judicial killings. Military and Imbonerakure crossed into neighbouring DR Congo’s South Kivu province late March-early April to allegedly combat Burundian rebel groups in Mulenge locality. Congolese military 3 April detained three Burundian nationals suspected of stealing weapons in South Kivu province. Govt forces 26-27 April reportedly clashed with Burundian rebel group RED-TABARA in South Kivu’s Uvira territory; rebels claimed five govt soldiers killed.

March 2020

Africa

Burundi

Electoral Commission (CENI) moved ahead with preparations of May general elections despite COVID-19 pandemic, and authorities and ruling party’s youth wing continued to harass opposition supporters. CENI 10 March approved six candidates for May presidential election including ruling party CNDD-FDD candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye and main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) candidate Agathon Rwasa. CENI rejected four candidacies including opposition Kira Burundi coalition candidate and former President Domitien Ndayizeye; Kira Burundi 12 March contested CENI’s decision before Constitutional Court, which reinstated Ndayizeye 19 March. Govt 20 March ruled out postponing May elections on account of COVID-19. UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi 9 March highlighted deteriorating political, security and economic situation in briefing to UN Human Rights Council, expressing concern over impunity of crimes against opposition supporters notably by Imbonerakure, youth wing of CNDD-FDD. Suspected members of Imbonerakure 16 March killed local CNL leader in Migera locality, Bujumbura Rural province; 28 March attacked household of CNL supporter in Ruyigi province. Police reportedly arrested two CNL members in Bubanza and Mwaro provinces 23 March and two others in Muyinga province 29 March. Military police 4-5 March arrested 36 returning Burundian soldiers from African Union Mission in Somalia on charges of rape and theft. Defence and security officials 11 March met with counterparts from DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in Goma, DRC, to discuss stabilisation efforts in eastern DRC. In attempt to stop spread of COVID-19, govt 15 March closed border with Rwanda until further notice and 21 March suspended all flights in and out of economic capital Bujumbura international airport.

February 2020

Africa

Burundi

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.

January 2020

Africa

Burundi

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.

December 2019

Africa

Burundi

Authorities and ruling party’s youth wing continued to repress opposition and relations between Burundi and Rwanda frayed further. Authorities in Mabayi, Cibitoke province in north west near Rwandan border night of 1-2 Dec arrested five members of main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) for collaborating with Rwandan army in alleged attack on military outposts in Mabayi mid-Nov. Youth wing of ruling party CNDD-FDD Imbonerakure 1-3 Dec assaulted five CNL members in Makamba and Mwaro provinces. Authorities 2-11 Dec arrested eighteen CNL members. Suspected Imbonerakure 12 Dec shot dead CNL member in Nyabiraba, Bujumbura province. Authorities 12-27 Dec arrested at least 26 CNL members including several who denounced irregularities in voter registration. National Intelligence Service (SNR) agents in Cibitoke province 22 Dec abducted two people and later reportedly executed both. At parliamentary meeting of regional bloc International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Bujumbura, Nkurunziza 6 Dec accused Rwanda of mid-Nov attack in Mabayi. At Burundi’s request, ICGLR deployed fact-finding mission to Burundi and Rwanda to verify attack, findings not yet released. Coalition of opposition parties in exile CNARED announced it would take part in May 2020 elections; sixteen opposition politicians who have lived in exile since 2015 poll returned to country 11 Dec. President Nkurunziza 20 Dec reiterated he would not stand for re-election. Govt mid-Dec temporarily blocked access to online video platform YouTube. Public prosecutor 30 Dec asked for fifteen-year sentence for four journalists and their driver arrested in Oct en route to report on clashes between military and rebels.

November 2019

Africa

Burundi

Security forces clashed with armed groups in north west near borders with DR Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, while govt and ruling party continued to repress opposition, targeting main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL). Unidentified armed groups night of 7-8 Nov and 14 Nov reportedly crossed from Burundi into Rwanda and attacked military positions. Unidentified armed group night of 16-17 Nov attacked military outposts in Mabayi, Cibitoke province in north west killing nineteen; govt 28 Nov accused Rwandan army of attack and threatened to retaliate if Rwanda continued hostilities, Rwanda denied accusation. Rebel groups Burundian Revolutionary Front (FRB) and National Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Agreement (CNR) both claimed responsibility. Imbonerakure, youth wing of ruling party CNDD-FDD, 2-10 Nov assaulted and detained ten CNL members in Ruyigi and Kayanza provinces. Clashes between Imbonerakure and CNL members 10 Nov left one CNL member dead in Nyamurenza, Ngozi province; police subsequently arrested some 30 CNL activists. Local CNL women’s leader found dead in Kiganda, Muramvya province 12 Nov. Authorities 4-28 Nov arrested at least fourteen CNL supporters and son of opposition party FRODEBU’s deputy leader Ngendakumana, whom party 9 Nov elected as its candidate in 2020 presidential elections. CNL leader Agathon Rwasa 15 Nov said CNL would participate in 2020 elections despite intimidation of its members. In Moscow, FM Nibigira and Russian FM Lavrov agreed to strengthen relations 5 Nov.