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Burundi Politics

State and politics

Burundi has throughout its modern history characterized by the contradiction between the majority of the hutu population, which is estimated to constitute about 85 percent of the residents, and the minority Tutsi, about 14 percent. Since pre-colonial times, Tutsi has been the ruling class and was strengthened in this position by the German colonial administration and subsequently under Belgian NF and UN mandates, respectively. The unjust system has created a deep conflict that has caused great suffering to the population. Extremists on both sides have undermined the contradictions. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of BI and its meanings of Burundi.

Government and Politics of Burundi

A democratic constitution, adopted in 1992, led to the country becoming its first Hutu president in 1993. However, he was murdered only a few months later by Tutsi extremists, which triggered a protracted civil war that is estimated to have claimed at least 300,000 lives. Following intensive foreign mediation by mainly African leaders, a peace agreement was concluded in the fall of 2001. During a three-year transition period, a provisional constitution stipulated that power should be shared between the peoples.

A new constitution specifying the distribution of power was approved in a referendum in February 2005. The legislative Parliament shall consist of a Senate with as many Hutus as Tutsis and a National Assembly where Hutus shall have 60 percent of seats and Tutsis 40 percent; In addition, the minority population is guaranteed three places in both the Senate and the National Assembly. The members of the government should also be made up of hutus to 60 percent and tutsis to 40 percent. Of the members of the government, the Senate and the National Assembly, 30 per cent shall be women. The president is elected in direct elections and must have two vice presidents, one hutu and one tutsi. President since 2005 is Pierre Nkurunziza.

Most political parties are associated with either group of people, but are forced to run for candidates from both groups in general elections. In the army and the police corps, both peoples should have equal representation. The previously almost total Tutsi dominance of the security forces has been the biggest obstacle to peace. The dominant Tutsi party, as well as the only permitted party in 1966–92, is the Union pour le progrès national (UPRONA), while since the democratization in 1992, the Hutus were initially represented primarily by the Front pour la democratie au Burundi(FRODEBU). Alongside these two parties are a large number of more or less extreme groups. The three-year transition period would have ended in the fall of 2004 with a series of general elections at the local, provincial and national levels. However, the process was delayed and only ended in 2005. The former Hutumilis party's National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) won by far in all elections, and its leader Pierre Nkurunziza was appointed by Parliament as president.

In the 2010 elections, the dominance of the CNDD-FDD in parliament has been strengthened since most opposition parties boycotted the elections. In the first presidential election since 1993, Nkurunziza won without any other candidates. The background to the electoral boycott was allegations of increasing authoritarian tendencies in the regime as well as cheating in the local elections that preceded the national elections.

When it was announced in April 2015 that Nkurunziza would be running for a third term, demonstrations broke out with violence. The opposition believes that the presidential candidacy contravenes the constitution, while the regime claims that Nkurunziza's first five years in power is to be considered a transitional solution since he was not elected in the 2005 general election but by parliament. In May, an attempt was made for a coup d'état which was defeated after a few days.

Despite the stubborn domestic resistance and despite the government being invited by the UN, among others, to postpone the elections, these were held in June and July 2015. In the parliamentary elections, the CNDD-FDD received 77 out of 100 seats. The newly formed party coalition Des indépendants de l'espoir was given 21 seats despite parts of the opposition calling for a boycott of the elections. According to the UNHCR, the tense and violent situation in the country caused about 144,000 people to leave the country until the end of June, and the refugee flows continued thereafter. The African Union (AU) refrained from sending election observers to the presidential election in July, citing the lack of conditions for a free election. The result showed that Nkurunziza received 69 percent of the vote, and he allowed himself to be sworn in for a third term.

judiciary

The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, an appellate court and a court of first instance in the capital, to which are added provincial courts in each provincial capital. Material law is based on Belgian, and thus French, legal traditions in combination with local customary law. In the wake of the conflicts that hit Burundi, a reform of the country's judiciary is underway. The death penalty was abolished in 2009.

Human Rights

Ethnic conflicts have plagued the country since independence. Since the violent conflict in the 1990s (see History), the country has worked to promote unity and reconstruction. The protection of human rights has gradually been strengthened.

However, political violence and lack of respect for political and civil rights are still major problems. The Constitution prohibits torture, but in practice police and security forces carry out torture as well as extrajudicial executions of prisoners. Particularly vulnerable are members of certain political opposition parties. The justice system, as well as large parts of the rest of society, is corrupt, weak and highly politicized. Detainees can sit for extended periods without prosecution and the conditions in the country's prisons are often described as directly life threatening.

Major shortcomings also exist in freedom of speech and press. Although the 2005 Constitution provides for press freedom, the media climate is affected by state restrictions. The regime prohibits reporting and criticism of, for example, defense and security policy and the judicial system. Journalists who break the rules risk heavy fines and self-censorship is common. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Burundi is ranked 145 out of 180 countries surveyed.

Other violations of human rights in Burundi include widespread sexual and gender-based violence against girls and women, some of whom are trafficked. Discrimination against girls and women is widespread, as is the case for LGBT people. In recent years, initiatives have been taken to address gender-based violence, according to reports by Human Rights Watch.

Heads of State

Kings
about 1675–1705 Ntare Ruthatsi (Ntare I)
about 1705–35 Mwezi I
about 1735–65 Mutaga I Seenyamwiiza
about 1765–95 Mwambutsa I
about 1795–1852 Ntare II Rugaamba
1852-1908 Mwezi II Kisabo
1908-16 Mutaga II
1916-66 Mwambutsa II
1966 Ntare III Ndizeye (Ntare V)
Presidents
1966-76 Michel Micombero
1976-87 Jean-Baptiste Bagaza
1987-93 Pierre Buyoya
1993 * Melchior Ndadaye
1994 * Cyprien Ntaryamira
1994-96 Sylvestre Ntibantunganya
1996-2003 Pierre Buyoya
2003-2005 Domitien Ndayizeye
2005- Pierre Nkurunziza

* Following the assassination of Ndadaye on October 21, 1993, François Ngeze acted as president for a week, after which Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi was interim president until February 5, 1994. Ntaryamira perished after only two months as president.

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