Rift In Burundi Government And Church; Biggest Threat To Stability

 Event Summary:

  • 21st July 2015- Burundi goes to the polls that give incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza a predictable landslide win elections that were marred by violence and controversy.
  • The opposition had boycotted the elections and threatened of dire consequences in the event Nkurunziza won the elections for a third term in office
  • 2nd August 2015- Nkurunziza’s close ally Adolphe Nshimirimana is assassinated. He was the country’s intelligence chief and said to the second most powerful man in Burundi.
  • The Catholic Church in Burundi refused to support Nkurunziza’s third term and warn of the impeding danger of a schism between the church and the state.


Burundi is on the verge of a major looming schism between the Catholic Church and the political leadership in the country following the controversial third-term win by Pierre Nkurunziza on 21st July 2015.

His controversial bid for a third term in office stirred the country’s decade stability following the peace accord signed in Arusha that ended a 13-year civil war in the country.

Violence sprung in Burundi that has seen over 175,000 people flee the country and dozens killed among the Chief of intelligence Adolphe Nshimirimana who was assassinated on Sunday.

The Catholic Church in Burundi has played a very instrumental role in the country especially running of schools and hospitals and being a major reconciliatory actor for the healing nation.

The church played the key role of ending the civil war as they brought the warring factions to the negotiating table and drafting the agreement that saw the end of the civil war. This has resulted to the church being very vocal against the third term which is creating a huge rift between the two.

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The international community led by the East African Community has opened intervention channels to establish a balance that will prevent the Burundi from plunging into a violent civil war in the very volatile region.

The Catholic Church in Burundi plays a very fundamental role as it is reasonably accredited for the peace she has enjoyed for the past decade and is still key as it Burundi is a relatively religious country which looks upon the church for solutions.

President Nkurunziza’s government has expressed their willingness to form an all-inclusive government that will involve even the opposition. The all-inclusive government needs to include the Catholic Church to avoid violence and a worse humanitarian crisis as the church has a huge sway on the people.

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