Burundi Crisis: National Elections Threat to Regional Stability

Great LakesEvent Summary:

On July 10th 2015, Intelligence reports from SIS confirmed that an armed group of 300-400 fighters in military uniforms attacked Burundian security positions in Kayanza province in the country’s northwest. The group withdrew to a forward base at the nearby Kibira National Park.

OSINT Reports cite Rwanda’s involvement in this militant attack, a charge the Government of Rwanda has denied.

Throughout the months of May and June 2015, supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza escalated ethnic intimidation countrywide further weakening social unity in the fragile Great Lakes nation.

The failed coup and the increase in political desertion from President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling party in past 2 months increase probability of foreign backed civil war in the country.

  • July 21st 2015- Over 3.8 million Burundians, eligible voters to participate in the presidential polls in the country
  • Polls postponed from 15th July following international pressure
  • Opposition have boycotted the elections
  • At least two people killed following explosions and gunshots at the eve of the elections
  • Current President Nkurunziza candidature contested and termed unconstitutional

Background:

Burundi is one of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries in the Great Lakes Region; it has an average Gross National Income (GDP) of 249 Euros with most people living below the poverty line.

Burundi like most countries in the region is getting over a civil war that ended in 2006 with a signed accord that saw the accent into power of Pierre Nkurunziza.

The country has been marred by unrest, violence, protests and a failed coup after President Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term in office amidst civil outcry challenging his bid as unconstitutional.

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Analysis:

On July 21st 2015, over 3.8 million Burundians, eligible voters are expected to participate in the presidential polls in the country in an election whose results are predictable in favor of sitting president.

Monday, on the eve of the polls explosions were heard and at least two people reported dead reported as opposition tactics to intimidate voters by the Nkurunziza’s team.

The opposition has boycotted the elections guaranteeing a default win for Nkurunziza.

Despite being in power for ten year, Nkurunziza has argued that he hasn’t violated the constitution as he has only been legitimately elected by the people once as the first term he was voted by parliament.

The protests orchestrated by the opposition to refute the third term have claimed over 100 lives and over 150,000 refugees. The large number of refugees has caused an influx and humanitarian crisis in the camps in her neighbors.

Forecast:

Recent past short-term forecasts by analysts at Strategic Intelligence Service warned of risk of political violence and a coup in the Republic of Burundi.

In the event that President Nkurunziza wins, a violent insurgency led by the failed coup general is expected to erupt. Burundi being highly volatile is likely to plunge into civil war just 10 years after an accord ended on of the worst wars.

Burundi, being poor and aid-dependent will experience sanctions and aids-freeze owed to unfair elections.

The imminent civil war might pool war-torn neighbors creating a regional crisis and overburden others with refugee-crisis.

However, the instability in Burundi has triggered both socio-political and economic imbalances in the Great Lakes region.

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These imbalances are likely to trigger intervention by neighboring countries such as Rwanda and Tanzania.

Already Rwanda is accused of backing Burundi rebels to wage war against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.

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