Africa

The Unrest In Burundi

Protests in Burundi were sparked by president Nkurunziza’s expression on seeking re-election to a third term presidential office holder. Demonstrations erupted in the capital Bujumbura lasting for 3 weeks. Because of the protests, the government shut the internet and telephone network. All the universities in the country were closed. The public officials now referred to the protesters on the streets as “terrorists”. Since then, a handful of citizens have fled the country, others have disappeared following arbitrary arrests, others have been internally misplaced and most of all death has had its share with police officers along with the battling protesters.

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Four of the constitutional judges including the vice president fled the country claiming they received death threats from the top government officials. The remaining judges ruled in favour of Nkurunziza’s third term presidential run but the opposition referred to it as a “manipulated” judgement. His supporters claimed that Nkurunziza’s first term should be ruled off since it was an parliamentary elect and not through a popular election. This meant to defend the president from critics to his third term service that claimed to jeopardise a peace deal that kept ethnic tensions in check since the civil war in Burundi ended in 2005.

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Burundians protest against the president’s bid to cling to power for a third term in Musaga, outskirts of Bujumbura, on April 28, 2015. 

In 2015, Bujumbura, the country’s capital, was flooded with protesters following a failed coup d’état geared by Major General Godefroid Niyombare. The general announced on radio that Nkurunziza’s government was no more in power while president Nkurunziza was in Tanzania attending an emergency meeting on the situation in Burundi then. The government also formed a commission that gave peoples’ opinions on political forum. In 2016 August, the commission’s chairperson announced that the findings resulted in favour of eliminating presidential term limit. They termed it as “people want the term limit erased”

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The African Union and international partners have failed to halt the crisis. Nkurunziza has deployed divisions within and between the AU, The UN and The East Africa Community (EAC). This  enabled his government to refute EAC attempts to bring forth negotiations that disabled shared analysis on crisis fuelling disunity. The Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the AU Commission (AUC) have since diverted their attention from Burundi to avoid further embarrassment.

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