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

Govt suspended main opposition party as authorities stepped up attempts to silence dissent ahead of 2025 legislative elections.

Govt suspended main opposition party. Interior Minister Martin Niteretse 2 June banned main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) from any activities, citing “irregularities” during congresses held in March and April, which saw several party executives opposed to CNL President Agathon Rwasa ousted. Rwasa and other party officials in following days denounced “attempt to weaken the CNL ahead of the 2025 legislative elections”. Authorities 10-17 June arrested at least 16 CNL activists and party officials on spurious charges. Meanwhile, ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure 4 June reportedly lynched CNL activist Gabriel Ndayishimiye in Gitega province, and 7 June launched census of population by political affiliation in Kayogoro commune, Makamba province, with CNL denouncing manoeuvre aimed at dissuading locals from openly supporting CNL.

In other important developments. Burundi 14-28 June participated in East African Community’s military exercise aiming to foster cooperation among military, police and civilian components of seven EAC member states.

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Onesphore Sematumba

Analyst, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi
Onesphore Sematumba

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