A Day In The History Of Conflicts: How Burundi Got Here

It was a decade and more of an obdurate civil war in Burundi (1994 -2005) then for a moment It felt like peace would come, but it did not. What happened anyway? Burundi is sadly back on the list of ongoing conflicts in Africa. In April this year Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be running for a third term of office as president of Burundi a decision judged by protesters and opponents as unconstitutional. His vehemence to stay in power was greeted by a failed coup to overthrow him from the “honey seat” in May 2015. Since then there have been erratic outbursts of violence especially in the capital city of Bujumbura.

A June 30th statement by the UN refugee agency –UNHCR, stated that over 10 000 Burundians fled from their home country to neighboring states for safety in less than a week. Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC Congo have experienced a rising influx in the number of refugees coming in from Burundi. According to Aljazeera, almost 150 000 people mostly women and children have been forced to grab their belongings and leave the country.

It remains shocking that in spite of the number of deaths recorded, and elections being carried out in the most democratically unconducive circumstances the incumbent is showing no signs of stepping down. His insistence on staying in power remains a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. He is also known to have passed a media law in 2013 that forbids reporting matters that could undermine National security, public order and the economy. Critics have described this, as an attack on press freedom.

Burundi is the world second poorest country, with a population of about 10.4 million. Since its independence in 1962 it has been characterized by endless tension between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Former rebel leader -Pierre Nkuruzinza is the first democratically elected president since the civil war. In 2005 what looked like a minute of respite from an ethnic-civil conflict that started in 1994 eventually escalated to an even resolute crisis situation.

The former president Domitien Ndayizeye in an interview with a home based media house The Standard called on the International Community to come to their rescue.
“We are appealing to the African Union and the United Nations to quickly come and help. If they do not respond in good time, Burundi might fall into a bigger crisis that might result in the country going back to civil war. We are asking the East African Community leaders to convince president Nkurunziza to respect the constitution and the Arusha Accord”

As we do the countdown to July 15  2015(date for presidential elections) one cannot help but wonder what another day in the history of conflict in Burundi will be like. We do however wish for the president who is said to have been democratically elected to democratically lead his country back to stability. Our hearts go out to Burundi and we say: Peace is possible

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