Burundi. Violence and concern were marked the year after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be running for a third term. The decision was controversial as he sat for two periods, but he pointed out that he was elected indirectly by Parliament for the first period.
In April, he was named CNDD-FDD by its ruling party as its candidate. It triggered protests in the capital, Bujumbura, as security forces struck hard. At least six protesters were shot dead, but protests continued. Hundreds of people were arrested, universities in the capital and independent radio stations were closed.
Opposition parties and individual organizations, as well as neighboring countries leaders, UN representatives and the Catholic Church, urged the president not to run for re-election. Members of the CNDD-FDD who criticized the decision were excluded.
The Constitutional Court announced in May that Nkurunziza was entitled to candidacy, but information appeared to threaten the judges. A judge went into exile and tens of thousands of people fled the country out of concern for the violence. When Nkurunziza was in neighboring Tanzania on May 13 to discuss the crisis, an army general stated that he had taken power. The coup attempt was defeated after two days of fierce fighting. At least 17 coupe makers were arrested.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Gitega is the capital of Burundi which is located in Eastern Africa. The crisis led to the parliamentary elections which were announced until May 26 being postponed several times. Both the outgoing Speaker of the House and Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri fled shortly before the election, which was finally held on June 29. The African Union withdrew its observers for fear of violence.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Burundi country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
The opposition boycotted the election, just as in 2010. CNDD-FDD won 77 of the 100 directly elected seats, two went to the ally UPRONA while the newly formed opposition coalition, Hope for the Burundians, won 21 seats. An additional 21 seats were added indirectly to secure the ethnic balance between the Hutu majority, Tutsis and Twee, giving women 30% of the seats.
Proposals to suspend the presidential election were rejected by the government. The election was held July 21, almost four weeks later than planned. Nkurunziza was declared victor with 69% of the vote. Opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, whose name remained on the ballots, received just under 19%. He was later elected President with the government’s support.
The election results did not stop the wave of violence and refugees. In August, a close adviser to the president, the hard-fought General Adolphe Nshimirimana, was killed in an attack in the capital, while human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was wounded in an ambush.
In the new government that took office in August, Nkurunziza appointed several hardy confidants and extinguished the hope of a unifying government.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner warned in September that the country was at risk of a new civil war and, like human rights groups, pointed to serious abuses, torture and extrajudicial executions. There were regular reports of how dead, sometimes mutilated bodies were dumped on the capital’s streets.
The EU and the US introduced targeted sanctions – travel bans and frozen assets – for four Burundians who were identified as particularly responsible for the spiral of violence, among them the Deputy Chief of Police and an ex-general who participated in the coup attempt in May.
In November, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the violence and also assigned UN chief Ban Ki Moon the task of preparing a UN force. Several countries and international organizations withdrew staff.
In December, at least 87 people were killed when three military posts were attacked in the capital. The UN estimated that at least 400 people were killed during the year and 200,000 relocated to neighboring countries. The AU decided to deploy a peacekeeping force of 5,000 soldiers, something Burundi rejected.