MS Risk Blog

Burundi Due to Hold Controversial Presidential Elections on Tuesday

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On Tuesday, Burundi will hold controversial presidential elections despite the African country being rocked by deadly protests since April against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s divisive bid to stand for a third term in office. The opposition has maintained that the President’s move is unconstitutional and that it violates a peace agreement that ended a civil war in 2006.

Since the demonstration began, at least 100 people have been killed and scores wounded in clashes that have erupted between demonstrators and police and ruling party militia. The UN has reported that more than 150,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries.

Key Dates and Events Leading Up to Tuesday’s Vote:

Demonstrations Begin

26 April 2015 – Police clash with protesters in several parts of the capital, Bujumbura. The clashes come just a day after President Nkurunziza is declared candidate for a third term in office by his ruling CNDD-FDD party.

Police used live rounds, tear gas and water cannons in order to prevent thousands of youths from marching to the city centre. Demonstrators were shot dead in clashes with police while others were killed in alleged attacks carried out by the ruling party’s youth wing, which have been likened to a militia.

President Nkurunziza’s Candidacy Validated

5 May – The Constitutional Court clears the president to run for at third term in office. The judgement, which was signed by six out seven judges, comes just hours after the court’s vice president fled the country after refusing to sign the judgement and claiming that judges had been subjected to death threats.

Order to Stop the Demonstration

9 May – The government orders protesters to “immediately and unconditionally” end the protests and orders all barricades to be removed within 48 hours however the demands are ignored.

Failed Coup

13 May – A top Burundian general, Godefroid Niyombare, announces the overthrown of President Nkurunziza. The attempted coup occurred hours after the president left the country for neighbouring Tanzania to attend talks with regional leaders on ending the political crisis.

15 May – Coup leaders announce that they are surrendering after failing to capture the state broadcaster from the presidential guard. According to the government, Niyombare avoids capture and goes on the run. President Nkurunziza returns to the presidential palace in the capital city.

Opposition Leader Assassinated

23 May – The leader of a small opposition party, Zedi Feruzi, is shot dead.

Parliament Speaker Defects

28 June – Parliament head Pie Ntavyohanyuma announces that he has fled to Belgium. He denounces the president’s “illegal” bid for a third term.

Legislative and Local Elections

29 June – The ruling CNDD sweeps to an expected overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections that were boycotted by the opposition and which were criticized by the international community

Violent Attacks in Cibitoke Suburb

1 July – Six people, including one police officer, were killed in gun battles in the capital’s Cibitoke district. According to police, five of those killed were members of an armed group.

Call to Delay the Presidential Vote

6 July – East African leaders demand that the Burundian government delay the presidential election by two weeks, until 30 July. Burundian officials however only delay the election by one week, to 21 July

Clashes Erupt in Northern Region of Country

10 July – Clashes erupted between the army and an armed group in the provinces of Kayanza and Cibitoke, near the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the Burundian army, more than 220 people have since been captured there.


15 July – Rival political factions meet for crisis talks, which are mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. It is a last-ditch effort, following months of violence ahead of the presidential elections.

19 July – The talks are suspended, amidst mutual recriminations, after the government fails to show up.

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