Conflict in Burundi: Commentary from the Foreign Policy Association


We break it down. You get the facts.

In this comprehensive article from the Foreign Policy Association last week, the escalating conflict in Burundi is explored, addressing rising concerns about the occurrence of another genocide in the country.

The WAC Take:

Human rights groups are calling last week’s violence in Burundi an act of “violent repression” by government security forces. On December 11, Burundi suffered one of its worst days of fighting between an armed opposition group and the Burundian military, part of the conflict initiated in May when a group of generals attempted a coup. Burundian authorities claimed to have resisted coordinated attacks by the opposition and suffered little to no losses, but other reports by international organizations state otherwise.

Heavy fighting took place in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, from 4:00 am to mid-morning local time. Unidentified gunmen assaulted a military camp in the northern Ngagara district along with two other facilities just south of the capital.

Conflict has wracked the country since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza resisted protests to seek a third term in office, which opposition stated was unconstitutional and violated the terms of a peace accord that ended the country’s 13-year civil war in 2005. Supporters of President Nkurunziza say his third term should be allowed because he was not popularly elected the first time.

For a nation that experienced two genocides, including one that contributed to the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus by the Hutu majority in Rwanda in 1994, the escalation of political conflict has worried the international community.

For the moment, Burundi experts say that political conflict outplays the risk of ethnic conflict, since the Burundian military was successfully integrated after 2005. The major focus is to make sure that the political conflict does not escalate into a civil war, in which “anything is possible,” says Adama Dieng, the U.N. special adviser for the prevention of genocide.

About 240 deaths have occurred since the outbreak of conflict in April, with no negotiable solutions currently on the table for the opposing players.

–Rebecca Retana, WAC Intern
Map of Burundi by