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

CrisisWatch Burundi

Unchanged Situation

Public prosecutors called for life imprisonment for former PM Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni, while govt troops engaged in DR Congo faced challenges.

Trial of former PM Bunyoni over alleged coup attempt ended. Supreme Court trial of Bunyoni 9 Nov concluded, with public prosecutors seeking life imprisonment on multiple charges including undermining national security for allegedly plotting coup against President Ndayishimiye in 2022; prosecutors also requested 30 years in prison for Bunyoni’s six co-defendants. Since Bunyoni’s arrest in April, human rights groups have called in vain for full judicial investigation into abuses committed by security forces during his time as security minister from 2015 to 2020.

Soldiers abandoned positions in DR Congo under pressure from M23. Amid renewed offensive by M23 armed group in North Kivu province (see DR Congo), Congolese civil society said Burundian troops deployed as part of East African Community regional force 22 Nov left Kitshanga town (which straddles Masisi and Rutshuru territories) and Mweso city (Masisi territory); military denied leaving Kitshanga. Meanwhile, M23 rebels 7 Nov accused Burundian troops of collaborating with Congolese armed forces and allied armed groups, including anti-Kigali Hutu-led Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, in eastern DR Congo; Gitega denied claim, which could strain relations with Rwanda after period of improvement. Radio France Internationale 17 Nov reported Gitega deployed at least four battalions of soldiers to North Kivu as part of bilateral agreement with Kinshasa.

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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