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

President Ndayishimiye reshuffled govt in apparent attempt to ensure loyalty of inner circle amid ruling party divisions.

Govt reshuffle exposed ruling party divisions. PM Gervais Ndirakobuca 2 Oct presented review of govt performance to parliament, acknowledging achievement gaps in several sectors, including interior, justice and education. However, govt reshuffle announced next day seemed to reward ministers for their loyalty, rather than performance, with President Ndayishimiye replacing health, agriculture, public service and youth ministers, while those in charge of poorly performing sectors stayed on. Reshuffle came as Sec Gen of ruling party, Révérien Ndikuriyo, recently toured country in apparent attempt to bolster his popularity; Ndikuriyo’s mounting ambitions could presage growing frictions with Ndayishimiye.

Authorities arrested opposition party leader. Authorities 17 Oct arrested head of opposition party Council for Democracy and Sustainable Development in Burundi, Kefa Nibizi, over accusations of undermining state security days after party blamed “unprecedented misery” on “failing leadership”; Nibizi granted provisional release 21 Oct. In separate development, Supreme Court 2 Oct denied bail to former PM Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, who has been held in pre-trial detention since April on charges of undermining state security.

Burundi saw wins and losses at UN Human Rights Council. UN General Assembly 10 Oct elected Burundi and 14 other member states to Human Rights Council for three-year term. Human Rights Council 12 Oct extended mandate of special rapporteur for Burundi for another year, citing continued “human rights violations and abuses” in country; Gitega expressed frustration, saying resolution was politically motivated. UN special rapporteur 25 Oct presented annual report on situation of human rights in Burundi to UN General Assembly, noted “shrinking civic space” and “growing pressure on political parties, civil society organisations and the media” ahead of 2025 legislative and municipal elections.

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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