Burundi Crisis

In a gross violation of the treaty, President Pierre Nkurunziza (a former Hutu rebel leader), who took office in 2005 decided to run for June elections. Judicial bodies have also conveniently given consent to his desire to run again. A constitutional court of Burundi argued that his first term as president did not count as he was selected by the legislators and not elected.

The ongoing Burundi election crisis is being placed second to the bloody civil war that took place from 1993 to 2005. The civil war was a result of ethnic tension between the Hutus and Tutsis which was triggered by the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, the first democratically elected president who was a Hutu. This ethnic conflict saw the massacre of more than 300,000 lives.

Protests in Burundi Source: Reuters

Protests in Burundi
Source: Reuters

An agenda to end the violence was soon drafted and in 2000, with support from the United Nations the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement was implemented. The primary objective of this treaty was to ensure equivalent power sharing by the two ethnic groups. Thus, according to the agreement a president was not allowed to be in power for more than two terms consecutively.

Anticipating violence, more than 50,000 Burundis have fled the country and taken refuge in Rwanda. Consequently, protests erupted by the opposition, who had no intention of stopping until Pierre stepped down.  Political instability and violence led to the loss of civilians as well as police personnel. In light of the gruesome conflict, United Nations Secretary General even urged the government to postpone the elections saying “deeply concerned over the prevailing political and security environment”.

The parliamentary election was boycotted by the opposition amongst gunfire and explosions. The speaker of the parliament also fled the nation fearing for his life after receiving threats. Moreover, the African Union acknowledged the fact that the Burundi elections were neither free nor fair. These claims were further supported by the United Nations.

Despite speculations regarding the credibility of the entire electoral process, approximately 3.8 million eligible voters have cast their votes.  Votes are presently being counted amidst political tensions and there also exists a possibility of a military coup.


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