Country Closeup: Burundi

On 25 April 2015, The National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Front for the Defense of Democracy announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would run for the 26 June election for Burundi’s highest political office. Protests raged for three weeks in the capital of Bujumbura, as critics noted that President Nkurunziza’s bid for office would be a third term, a direct violation of the constitution and peace accord which was established at the end of the civil war. Those in favour of the President’s action differentiated the manner in which President Nkurunziza was elected, given that his first term was certified by a vote of the Parliament and not by general election.
The National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Front for the Defense of Democracy claimed that protests were centred on reignited ethnic tensions of Tutsi ethnic groups. Protesters of both Hutu and Tutsi tribes remarked the potential third-term for President Nkurunziza was disrespect for the 2005 peace accord. After two weeks of protest, the Major General Godefroid Niyombare issued a coup d’état on 13 May 2015 while President Nkurunziza was called as Head of State to the 13th Extraordinary Summit of the East African Community in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The attempt failed as the government retook control a day later, subsequently arresting the central organisation of the coup. Elections for the National Assembly, Presidential office, and Senate were scheduled for 29 June, 21 July, and 24 July 2015, respectively. The National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Front for the Defense of Democracy won in all contests. Pierre Nkurunziza won the presidential election with 69.41% of the votes.

The offices of the President, Senate, and National Assembly of Burundi are expected to have their next elections in 2020. The country is classified as ‘low-income’ by World Bank indicators, including a rather low life expectancy (compared to Sub-Saharan African figures), statistical capacity, and GNI per capita. The country’s focus in the short and medium-term must be solving legitimate development challenges and not allowing historic, ethnic tensions to play a role in the political discourse at the office of the President, the National Assembly, and the Senate. Although the violence continues today, poverty-reduction strategies are the key to overcoming historical and political challenges, providing stability and a prosperous future to a country with enormous potential. 

Founded in 2000, the Parliamentary Network is an independent, non-governmental organization that provides a platform for Parliamentarians from over 140 countries to advocate for increased accountability and transparency in development cooperation. The Rt Hon. Liam Byrne is the current Chair of the Parliamentary Network.


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Membership is free of charge and open to elected parliamentarians who currently hold a mandate. As a member, you will receive The Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s policy materials, including the quarterly Network Review publication and the Parliamentarians and Development series.

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