Burundi is a land-locked country in Central-East Africa and is naturally blessed with an abundance of tea and coffee plantations.
French and Kirundi
Tutsi (14%), Hutu (85%) and Twa (1%), and small amounts of Europeans and South Asians
Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 32%, Muslim 1%
Since March 2010 the mission has been implementing a project on Migration Policy Development. IOM is assisting the Burundian Government in the development of a National Migration Policy through the implementation of activities such as capacity building, the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration, the assessment of the framework of migration management in the country and the drafting of the National Migration Policy.
As the Burundi refugee crisis approaches its fifth year, some 390,000 Burundian refugees are being hosted by the Governments and people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, 349,000 of whom are assisted through the Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan by the UNHCR. While smaller numbers of asylum seekers continue to arrive throughout the region, voluntary returns to Burundi have increased, with more than 55,000 assisted to repatriate as of November 2018.
Social, Economic, and Governance indicators
Taken from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ranked out of 54 African countries
A gender quota of 30% female representatives was introduced in 2005 in Burundi
This has led to a substantial increase in the number of female political representatives with over 35% of parliament made up of women and the share of female ministers consistently above 30%.
National Mainstream Parties
Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie – Forces pour la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD), Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), Union for National Progress (UPRONA)
Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD), Forces Nationales de Liberation (FNL) (formerly Palipehutu-FNL), Union Pour la Democratie (UPD) Zigamibanga, Mouvement pour la Solidarite et la Democratie (MSD)
Active but minor political parties
Party for the Restoration of the Monarchy and Dialogue (Parti pour la restauration de la monarchie et la dialogue (ABAHUZA), African-Burundian Alliance for Salvation (ABASA), Democratic Alliance for Revival (ADR), Council of Patriots (CDP), FRODEBU Nyakuri ("The Real" FRODEBU), Movement for the Rehabilitation of Citizens – Rurenzangemero, Party for National Recovery (PARENA), Party of Workers and Democracy (PTD-Twungurunani), Union of Democrats for Development in Burundi (RADEBU)
A gender quota of 30% female representatives was introduced in 2005 in Burundi. This has led to a substantial increase in the number of female political representatives with over 35% of parliament made up of women and the share of female ministers consistently above 30%.
Electoral schedule and process
Burundi elects on national level a head of state (the president), and a legislature. The National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) has 118 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation with a 2% barrier. The Senate (Sénat) has 49 members, elected for a five-year term by electoral colleges of communal councillors. Extra seats in both chambers can be added to ensure that ethnic and gender quotas are met. Burundi has a multi-party system, with two or three strong parties and a third party that is electorally successful.
The National Defence Force (Force de defense nationale, or FDN) is the state military organisation responsible for the defence of Burundi. The Commander in Chief is President Pierre Nkurunziza, the Minister of Defense and War Veterans is Emmanuel Ntahomvukiye, and the Chief of Staff is Lieutenant General Prime Niyongabo. Naval and aviation commands exist, as well as specialised units. The National Defence Force has 20,000 are army personnel and 30,000 paramilitary personnel.
The principle law enforcement agency in Burundi is the National Police of Burundi (Police Nationale du Burundi, PNB). The police PNM is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security. It is separate from the National Intelligence Service (SNR), which is the state intelligence agency. The PNB was founded in December 2004, following the end of the Burundian Civil War and the Arusha Accords. Its objective was to provide a single, integrated police force under the leadership of a single Directorate-General (Direction générale), replacing the previous system of administrative fragmentation. The PNB is divided into missions, dealing with separate areas as well as five regional commissariats. The different services include:
- Internal Security Police (Police de sécurité intérieure)
- Judicial Police (Police judiciaire)
- Air Police (Police de l’Air)
- Border and Aliens Police (Police des frontières et des étrangers)
- Prison Police (Police pénitentiaire)
Most of Burundi’s police force is concentrated in Bujumbura, the capital city, and other major urban centres. Burundi has been a member of INTERPOL since 1970. Burundian police have been deployed abroad as part of United Nations (UN) operations in Africa.
The judicial system in Burundi is based upon the French and German customary law. The judiciary comprises of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, Tribunals of First Instance and Constitutional Courts.
Supreme Court: The President of the Supreme Court of Burundi is Adrien Nyankiye. The Burundi Supreme Court consists of nine members including the president. The Supreme Court is divided into three chambers, namely, administrative chamber, judicial chamber and chamber of cassation. The united chambers of the court monitor the rules of the judicial chamber and any other chamber belonging to Supreme Court or any other body holding the same rank.
Court of Appeal: The court of Appeal of Burundi Constitutes 3 courts based at Bujumbura, Ngozi, and Gitega
High Court: The High Court of Burundi judiciary constitutes the Supreme Court as well as the Constitutional Court. In the year 1992, the constitution of Burundi introduced a number of courts for reviewing all the newly made laws.
Constitutional Court: The Constitutional Court ensures all laws are strictly adhering to the Constitution of Burundi.
Transparency and trust
As has been reported by the Human Rights Watch (HWR) in many of its reports, the police and judiciary rank very high on the corruption scale. Regarding police corruption, many Burundians stress the fact that some of the police accept bribes or money to arrest innocent people or to free up convicts who were found to have committed offences or crimes. Within the judiciary, corruption can be evidenced by court officials and judges influencing verdicts, putting files ahead, freeing up convicts, or not executing judgements. Corruption in the judicial system is not unknown to the government itself, in 2006 the Minister of Justice and Attorney General admitted it himself. Following his declaration, many legislative measures were taken to fight this phenomenon. Such measures included the creation of an anti-corruption court as well as the corruption brigade. Some 10 years later, the incidence of judicial corruption remains unchanged, as the new Minister of Justice admitted in 2016. He identified the main culprits as magistrates of the residence courts, labour courts, as well as ironically, those also from the anti-corruption court. In effect, it is a pity to notice that cases of corruption occur within the institutions that are meant to best guarantee justice and security for citizens.
Timeline of important events
Burundi attains its independence.
Thousands of Hutus flee to Rwanda following ethnic violence.
In response to a Hutu-led uprising, about 120,000 people (Hutus) are massacred by government forces and their supporters.
A new constitution makes Burundi a one-party state under UPRONA.
President Bagaza was deposed in a coup led by Pierre Buyoya, who was later sworn in as president. President Buyoya would go on to dissolve all opposition parties, suspend the 1981 constitution and institute his ruling Military Committee.
In response to another Hutu-led uprising , the military massacred thousands of civilians, while thousands more would flee to neighboring countries.
New constitution providing for a non-ethnic government and a multiparty system was adopted to support such in a referendum.
In the multi-party presidential elections, candidate Melchior Ndadaye's Frodebu won the polls, ending military rule, which led to the installation of a pro-Hutu government. Later in the year, Tutsi soldiers assassinated President Ndadaye. In retaliation to the assassination of the president, Hutus destroyed 1,924,841 coffee trees. Burundi is plunged into an ethnic conflict which claimed some 300,000 lives.
Parliament appoints a Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president. In the same year, President Ntaryamira was killed when the plane he shared with Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down. The death of both presidents had triggered genocide in Rwanda in which killed 800,000 civilians.
Antoine Nduwayo is appointed as the new prime minister. Massacre of Hutu refugees leads to renewed ethnic violence in the capital, Bujumbura.
FRODEBU leader and third president of Burundi, Sylvestre Ntibantuganya, was ousted by UPRONA in a military coup that would suspend the constitution, to appoint its leader Pierre Buyoya as president. A splinter group of FRODEBU is formed, referred to as CNDD.
Establishment of a transitional constitution and the formal swearing-in and inauguration of Buyoya as president.
Signing of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (Arusha Accords), two main Hutu groups refused to sign.
Power-sharing accord agreed to by Hutu politicians and President Buyoya; terms called for President Buyoya to lead for 18 months, Hutu president for 18 months, elections to follow. South Africa deploys a troops battalion mandated to protect and support the returning of members of the new transitional government.
President Buyoya and Pierre Nkurunziza, Hutu leader of FDD, agreed to cease-fire. Main Hutu party FRODEBU leader, Jean Minani, elected president of transitional national assembly.
President Ndayizeye and Pierre Nkurunziza sign an agreement to end the Burundi civil war at the summit of African leaders in Tanzania. the African Union (AU) deployed the AU Mission in Burundi (AMIB), mandated to help implement the Arusha Accords, the ceasefire protocols and the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme.
United Nations (UN) force takes over peacekeeping duties from African Union troops under a Chapter VII mandate. The UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) was authorised to continue both AMIB’s previous mandate and new tasks such as electoral assistance, advising the transitional government, monitoring of Burundi’s borders and carrying out institutional reforms.
President signs law to set up new national army, incorporating government forces and all but one Hutu rebel group, the FNL. Pierre Nkurunziza, from the Hutu FDD group, is elected as president by the two houses of parliament. The FDD won parliamentary elections in June.
The last major rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), and the government sign a ceasefire at talks in Tanzania. Sporadic clashes recur over the next two years. Burundi accepted as member of East African Community (EAC).
UN shuts down its peacekeeping mission and refocuses its operations on helping with reconstruction. Burundian soldiers joined AU peacekeepers in Somalia.
FNL lays down arms and officially becomes a political party in a ceremony supervised by the African Union.
President Nkurunziza re-elected in uncontested poll after main opposition parties boycott the vote.
Burundi Senate passed highly restrictive amendments to Press Law. The leader of the former rebel FML, Agathon Rwasa, resurfaces after three years in hiding and says he will stand in the 2015 presidential election.
Parliament blocks a government attempt to introduce changes to the constitution seen as threatening the balance of power between the country's main ethnic groups.
Constitutional Court rules in favour of President Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term, amid reports of judges being intimidated. An army officer's coup attempt fails. President Nkurunziza wins a third term in the presidential election with 70% of the vote. After violently quelling resistance to the disputed third term of presidency, President Nkurunziza and his political allies methodically destroyed the capability of human rights groups, civil society organizations and media houses to operate in Burundi.
President Nkurunziza threatens to counter the deployment of external peacekeepers after the AU announces its plans to send in 5,000 troops to protect civilians from escalating violence between government and rebel forces. The EU announces its suspension of direct financial aid to the Burundian government.
Burundi leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) after ICC judges authorized an investigation into allegations of government-sponsored murder, rape and torture following protests against the constitutional amendment. ICC judges approve the opening of a full investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Burundi, where at least 1,200 people have died in unrest since 2015.
Official results say a referendum backed constitutional reforms that could allow President Nkurunziza to stay in office for another sixteen years. Burundi issues international arrest warrant for former president Pierre Buyoya over the killing of President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993. Mr Buyoya's supporters say the move is politically motivated.
The Burundi government has demands that NGOs observe ethnic quotas in recruiting staff: 60% for Hutu and 40% for Tutsi. The political capital is moved from Bujumbura to Gitega, although Bujumbura remains the commercial capital.
History of Peace Processes
Summary of Current Conflicts
Continuing ethnic tensions
While the ethnically motivated civil war officially ended in 2005, ethnic tensions continue to exist. Former President Pierre Buyoya, now a diplomat serving as the African Union special envoy to Mali, has accused the state of trying to “ethnicize” the tensions in the country to gain support in the 2020 elections.
Earlier in December, the government issued 17 warrants calling for the arrests of military and civilian officials, including Buyoya, in relation to the 1993 assassination of then-President Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi’s first Hutu head of state. Buyoya called the warrant “ethnic revenge.” The African Union warned Burundi that an issuance of international arrest warrants could jeopardize an already-stalled peace process initiated by the AU.
Since July 2015, the political unrest has given way to a long-term authoritarian crackdown. According to UN estimates, over 1,200 people have been killed and countless others are jailed or missing across the country.
Rights activists insist a true accounting of those disappeared and killed by state authorities is nearly impossible given the restrictions imposed on international NGOs and the media by Nkurunziza. Those who have escaped detention allege that torture in prisons is common.
International conflict and isolation
In the face of sanctions from the U.S. and the European Union, Burundi became the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in October 2017. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed that it received a diplomatic correspondence from the Burundian government requesting the closure of the Bujumbura office in December 2018. UN sources say they were given two months to leave the country. Talks with government are still ongoing however the government has maintained its stance, claiming that Burundi has an adequate amount of national institutions for the protection human rights and insisting that they will continue to collaborate with the UN.
Burundi has also distanced itself from regional powers and neighbours. In a recent spat with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who serves as chair of the East African Community’s Regional Inter-Burundi Dialogue—a floundering series of consultations, begun in 2016, intended to bring the political opposition and government to the table to resolve the political unrest—Nkurunziza attempted to deflect from the need to intervene in Burundi’s political affairs. Instead, he charged that neighboring Rwanda is jeopardizing security throughout Burundi, accusing Rwanda of “complicity and support” for anti-government rebel groups and “troublemakers” in the country. Nkurunziza declared that he no longer considered Rwanda “a partner country” within the East African Community, “but simply as an enemy country.”
- The East African Community’s Inter-Burundian Dialogue aims to involve a wide variety of stakeholders to allow parties to the current conflict to reach an agreement, however negotiations have not yielded the desired results.
- The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Burundi, the East African Community and the African Union have formed a Joint Technical Working Group to facilitate peace in Burundi as part of the Inter-Burundian Dialogue.
- The AU’s Central Organ for the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (MCPMR)
- African Mission in Burundi (AMIB)
- United Nations Mission in Burundi (ONUB)
- UN Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB)
The Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi, signed in Arusha, Tanzania, on 28 August 2000, was an attempt to end the ethnically-based civil war between the Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. The Agreement included provisions relating to political and legal reform, human rights and peacekeeping. Its implementation has been mostly successful.