Exchange to Change | September 2015 - Page 16

Tensions were building up in Burundi for several months: would President Nkurunziza run for a third term? Some were in favour, many others were not. If he were to run, would this be constitutional? How was the population going to react? And the security forces? What about international actors? primarily political. At stake is a political culture initiated by the Arusha Agreement signed in the year 2000. After years of civil war and decades of ethnic strife, the Arusha Agreement laid down the political foundations of a new Burundi through a power-sharing arrangement between former enemies in particular and all segments of Burundian society in general. Filip Reyntjens explains that Burundi’s crisis has no ethnic dimension, it is a failure of democracy. He states that the model adopted to pacify ethnic strife has been largely successful so far. Finally, Nkurunziza’s decision and the ensuing unrest have implications for the wider Great Lakes Region of Africa. People Burundi in crisis: what is at stake? Insights from IOB researchers and student ®Reuters Nkurunziza’s announcement was expected on different occasions during the first months of this year. Many postponements followed. Then, when in late April he finally confirmed he would run for a third term, Burundi was plunged into a severe political crisis affecting the institutional, political, social and regional landscape. Exchange to Change collected IOB staff and students’ reactions to the Burundian crisis, offering a variety of angles of what is at stake. To begin, a current IOB student, Camille Munezero, discusses his experience with and interpretation of current events in Burundi. We asked him how he sees things evolve in the coming weeks and months. On 5 May, Burundi’s constitutional court validated Nkurunziza’s candidacy but one of the judges fled the country citing pressure to comply with the President’s desire to contest another election. Similar defections followed at the level of the electoral commission, parliament and even a vicepresident fled. The credibility of Burundi’s state institutions is at risk. Stef Vandeginste reflects on the constitutional question: is Nkurunziza eligible for the 2015 presidential elections? People took to the streets, especially in the 16 capital Bujumbura, to contest the President’s decision. Police and protestors faced each other during several weeks of manifestations. Others fled to neighbouring countries out of fear of what was and is about to follow or because they were threatened and intimidated by presidential followers. Bert Ingelaere, a postdoctoral research fellow at IOB, attempts to shed light on the experiences of the Burundian population based on recently conducted fieldwork in the Burundian hills. In the midst of all of this, elements in the Burundian army mounted a coup d’état. General Niyombare, the coup leader, and his allies failed. Some were arrested, others fled, including Niyombare himself. They announced the start of an armed struggle against Nkurunziza and his supporters. At the time of writing, a new period of civil war is looming. Nina Wilén has followed the integration of the former rebel forces in Burundi’s regular army since the end of the civil war. What does she make of this coup d’état? And how does she see the future actions of Burundi’s security forces that have an important role to play as peacekeepers on the African continent as well? Despite Burundi’s history of large-scal